Since the school year began a few weeks ago, many families we have spoken to have reported an increased level of stress. Parents have to make sure the technology is working and that their children are engaged and understanding the material and their assignments, all while working at their own jobs. We have been trying to get children to limit their screen time for years, and now they are forced to use their screens all day. Many students just will not learn at the same level as they did with 3-dimmensional teachers and other children, and many families are feeling the stress of it all.
You have been talking to other families, and you know that it isn’t you. Hopefully, our children will be going back to school soon, but meanwhile, we can do this. We all need to rise to the occasion, and here are some tips to help relieve stress.
- Stress is contagious, and when you are stressed out, your kids will be, too. Parents must take care of themselves first, like when administering oxygen on a plane. Use the stress relieving techniques that work best for you, such as deep breathing, exercising, meditating, or listening to music. You can then model stress reducing strategies for your children.
- Keep daily routines. Routines and structure help children and adults feel secure. Build in a reward system to look forward to that includes favorite meals and snacks, a romp with the dog, or a jump rope challenge.
- Stop trying to control your children. Research has shown than the perception of lack of control causes and exacerbates stress. Try not to micromanage. Give your children the space to figure out what to do, and tell them how to ask for help if they really need it. Try to reduce nagging and reminding. Give your children tools to be responsible, such as electronic reminders and checklists.
- Help your children identify the source of their stress, and then you can strategize together. Awareness leads to better stress management.
- If your child is having trouble connecting with and following distance learning, there may be other ways to teach the same material. Take advantage of educational games online to help with math or spelling. Go to Sciencebudies.org for STEM activities to do at home, sorted by grade.
- Monitor your child’s mood. You can probably tell if he is overwhelmed or about to have a meltdown. It is OK to take a break, especially a movement break.
- Expect results but not perfection. It is imperative that your child continues to learn, but some days will be more productive than others. Praise your children for what they have accomplished and show them that you have confidence in their abilities and follow-through.
- Add social time to the day. It is tough for your children to have the drudgery of school without the fun part, hanging with their friends. Incorporate outdoor play with others and be flexible with socializing on social media.
- Try to build laughter and fun into every day. If you can find a funny or silly angle to any of the schoolwork, all the merrier.
While distance learning may not be ideal, it is helpful to have a positive attitude. Some ways that distance learning can prevent stress are increased sleep, less commute time, and a little more family time. Perhaps your children are more focused and less distracted online than in person. Homework may be incorporated into the independent work day, allowing more free time in the evenings. It should be easier to incorporate exercise and healthy meals into every day. Always look for the silver lining.