August is traditionally a time when many families begin thinking and planning about going back to school. This year is very different due to the pandemic as each school district struggles to decide how to best provide education while keeping everyone safe. This change from our normal back to school experience can lead to new or continued feelings of fear, disappointment, powerlessness, and anger in ourselves and our children.
During times of stress, it is important to recognize that conflicts and negative interactions are more likely to occur between parents and children. Therefore parents need to be aware of these emotions and make a plan on how to address them. Consider the following strategies to minimize stress and negativity in your home:
- Acknowledge feelings. The best way to deal with these uncomfortable emotions is to recognize and acknowledge how we and our children are feeling. Sharing our feelings with someone who is listening helps to decrease the feelings we are experiencing.
- Develop and maintain routines for yourself and your children. Routines that occur about the same way every day provide a sense of control when other things in our life feel chaotic. For children, routines build a sense of trust and security, because they are predictable. They also promote health and safety behaviors, such as washing hands before eating or when coming indoors. Make sure your routine includes regular meal times and adequate amounts of sleep. For more information on how to make a new home routine, click here.
- Laugh. Laughter reduces stress hormones and increases bonding hormones. Incorporate free time and fun into your daily schedule.
- Get outside. Getting fresh air and some exercise is another way to reduce stress. This can be as simple as a short walk, blowing bubbles or playing catch together.
- Breathe. When feeling stress, anger, or fear, take several deep breaths to help calm yourself. This will also allow you time to think of positive ways to handle strong emotions versus reacting. This lifelong skill is also helpful for children to learn, so they can self-calm and manage their emotions. Click here to learn 5 deep breathing exercises and how to teach them to your children.
- Focus on the positive. With so much focus on what is not going well, it is important to balance our viewpoint with the positive. Notice and comment on the positive things you see your children and family members do. Also, at the end of the day focus on three things that went well or you’re proud of.
- Practice mindfulness. This refers to focusing on the present moment. Much of what we see on TV or read online can lead us to more uncertainty and anxiety. By being mindful of the present moment, we focus on where we are now, what we are doing, and what we can control instead of worrying about what might happen. This helps us to calm, reduce stress, and gain insight. For more information on mindfulness, click here.
By implementing these strategies, your family can take steps toward replacing stressful moments and negative interactions with more positive moments and interactions.