Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

Mental health supports back to personal learning

The planned return to personal learning on Monday has sparked a series of reactions from students and families. As we prepare for returning to school next week, some look forward to getting in touch with peers, educators, and returning to the routines and structure to which they are accustomed. Others express stress and even fear with the return to personal learning. We are part of your child’s support circle and our staff are here to support you and your child in this transition.

As a parent, there are things you can do to help your child cope with this transition back. Recognize that everyone responds differently to stress, and make sure your child knows there is no one way to feel. As mentioned, some may be excited about returning, some may not respond, and others may be worried about this return. This can manifest itself in different ways. Your child may seem tired, irritable, angry, complain of headaches, etc. Their feelings may change. Look for changes in behavior, sleep and eating patterns.

Some ideas to support your child:

  1. Deal with your worries first, and calm down on the model. Children look at what we do, not what we say.
  2. Find moments to connect with your child, these do not have to be long to be meaningful.
  3. Listen and keep room for their feelings “I hear you, it makes sense that you are worried”
  4. Be open to questions and discussion
  5. Avoid giving too much reassurance. If they are constantly asking the same question, return. “You’ve said it before, it’s stressful. Can you remind me of what we said last time you asked that question? “
  6. Focus on what you can control and model healthy coping strategies. Be open to them about how to deal with stress right now. You are an important role model for them.
  7. Engage them in problem solving. What do they think can help and explore what has helped in the past.
  8. Provide options whenever possible. “Do you want to set an alarm, or do you want me to wake you up in the morning for school?” “Do you want to go home, or should I pick you up?”
  9. Give structure and start the routine early in preparation for Monday (sleep, eat, etc.)
  10. Limit media exposure for both you and your child. This can overwhelm any of us these days.
  11. Look for the positive and practice gratitude together. Find a little thing every day that gives you joy. Create space for laughter and play.
  12. Know that we all do the best we can, and show compassion for ourselves, your children, and each other.

Ultimately, you need to know that there is no perfect parenting at the best of times, and there certainly is not through these times. As Ottawa Public Health staff once wrote, “perfect” has been canceled so far. Do the best you can and know it’s enough right now.

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please contact your child’s class teacher to discuss possible support or contact the following community services. .

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