This September, life looks vastly different to all of us — in our communities, our work and our home lives. Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in our schools, where administrators, teachers, parents and children are facing unprecedented changes in adapting the way we educate and empower our youth.

Concerns are now multi-layered. At Arbor Family Counseling, we are acutely aware of the impact that a crisis such as the pandemic can have on risk factors particularly in children developing emotionally, socially and physically. Below are some tips to help parents as they continue to navigate this tough time:

Keep Yourself Calm

There has been a lot to react to since last March when COVID came to town! We have had closures, stay at home orders, racial protests, sports and activities closures, and we now have an upcoming election that looks to be emotionally charged as usual. Children rely on their parents to provide a sense of safety and security. The challenge is for parents to do what they can to manage their anxiety in their own time and to not overshare their fears with their children. That may mean containing emotions, which may be hard at times, especially if they’re feeling those emotions pretty intensely. This is where we invite you to call Arbor for services as you deserve our support in managing your emotions through this tough time.

Be Proactive with Communication

Parents should have a calm, proactive conversation with their children about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and the important role children can play in keeping themselves healthy. Encourage your kids to let you know if they’re not feeling well, or if they are feeling worried about the virus so that the parents can be of help.”

Structure Their Time

Children need structure. What we’re all having to do, very quickly, is invent entirely new structures to get every one of us through our days,” I would strongly recommend that parents make sure that there’s a schedule for the day — that can include playtime where a kid can get on their phone and connect with their friends or go outside, but it also should have technology-free time and time set aside to help around the house.

“Ask, expect, support and normalize that they may have a vast array of emotional reactions

to all of the changes around them.”

Encourage Your Child to Feel and Express Their Emotions

This school year brings cancelled school plays, concerts, sports matches and activities that children are deeply disappointed about missing out on because of COVID-19. Let them feel and verbalize their different reactions, including sadness. In the scope of a child or adolescent’s life these are major losses. Help them to re-focus on what activities they can do and enjoy.

Check In with Their Understanding

Ask them what they are hearing and concerned about. Check for misinformation they may be hearing from others. Calm their concerns about what else may be affected in their lives.

Create Welcome Distractions

This is a time to cook together, walk together, go for a drive together and pick up a treat! Encouraging emotions is good for them, but so is a distraction from such big emotions.