As you all know, our Stay at Home orders have led to massive disruptions in our daily routines as families. And I applaud all of you for doing the impossible. I know how overwhelmed both parents and children are feeling right now as I’ve talked to many of my schools’ families in the past week who have let me know just how overwhelmed everyone is. When our everyday lives are disturbed, we all become anxious – children included. And that anxiety can cause all sorts of issues.
Anxiety is like the little guy in the cartoons who is sitting on your child’s shoulder telling him to “just go ahead and do the wrong thing”. That voice is so loud, it simply drowns out the other side, the voice of reason. And without even realizing it, your child is doing or saying things that make you wonder who the heck that person even is right now.
So – what in the heck can you do to help your child deal with their anxiety?
One of the best things you can do is to stick to a routine – even a brand new one. We are creatures of habit. So, when we follow our routines, it can help your child ease their anxiety, and help you, as parents, manage expectations and stick to them. By doing this, children will have a greater sense of security and will be more likely to cooperate.
I know that right now, with all this unchartered territory, it can be stressful to even think about implementing a new routine. But if we use this time as an opportunity for growth, executing a new routine will be easier. For children, this time can help them learn more self-discipline and self-control. With a consistent daily routine and consistent daily expectations in place, children can also begin to adopt these new constructive habits, which are life skills much needed today.
It’s important to remember, however, that routines should have time scheduled for regular breaks. When children are at school, they are not doing academic work for 7 hours straight. They have time for recess, lunch, change of classes, physical education, music, art, etc. There is also a time that the school day ends, so it’s important to make sure this time is established as well. By doing this, children learn to look forward to things and are more likely to adhere to the routines put in place.
The uncertainty of when things will go back to “normal” is stressful. Implementing new routines may seem difficult at first but will ultimately help everyone feel more at ease. As this is done, we must be patient with each other and ourselves. Navigating through each day, now, is a new experience for everyone and we all deserve grace. Focusing on the new and improved behaviors that will come out of this experience will help us all keep moving forward.