Welcome to 2021!
As we begin the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, there is still much uncertainty and many families are still working and learning from home, at least part of the time. In addition to all of the usual challenges that schooling brings, increased anxiety among our children cannot be ignored.
For the kids in our lives, the last ten months have been many things. Scary, because an invisible illness was suddenly spreading across the globe. Confusing, because even the adults in their lives didn’t have many answers. Maybe even fun, at least when the possibility of school closing felt like a snow day. But for many, that novelty has given way to frustration, sadness, and even depression and anxiety. Just like adults, kids are wondering: Will I get sick? Will I get to see my friends again? Will someone I love die? It’s a lot for kids and parents to handle.
In a recent report, researchers interviewed teenagers in California and found that they reported a huge sense of loss, similar to the stages of grief. This is why it's important to watch for signs of something more serious. Adolescent psychologist Lisa Damour says depression in teens sometimes looks like a prickly porcupine–everybody rubs them the wrong way. Don’t take it personally; just keep offering them a listening ear, and meet tough moments with empathy. There will be times when feelings bubble up and meltdowns will happen, so in those moments, try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. If they’re acting like it’s the end of the world, it might be because their world has turned upside-down this year. But in order to help kids calm down, parents have to calm down, too. Children learn a lot about dealing with adversity by watching adults.
We wanted to share with you some suggestions on how to make this semester as productive and effective as possible, while supporting the emotional needs of our children.