And keep your sanity along the way.
The world feels so big right now, doesn’t it? And, right in the midst of all kinds of crazy, we enter the back-to-school season.
As much as we’d love a normal back to school season, there is nothing normal about this year.
Sure, you can post all the first day of school pictures. You can talk with your kids about doing well in school. You can even do your best to ease the family back into school routines.
But, alas, there are dozens (at least) of ways this school year can go sideways. I mean, it would be great if we could just throw our hands up in the air and ride with abandon.
As much as we’d like to give in to the weight of all that has happened, we have to find a way forward, if for no other reason than the sake of our children’s future and our own sanity.
So, how do us mere mortals plan for the unexpected?
How can parents prepare for the chaos of COVID quarantines, changes in school procedures, the impact on children’s learning and emotions, not to mention the world outside of school?
First, parents must recognize the impact of national and world events on children.
The effects of the last two years on children are enormous. What they’ve seen, heard, and experienced is impossible to ignore.
A staggering 43,000 children in the United States alone have lost a parent to COVID-19. This doesn’t count the loss of friends and relatives.
In addition, there is the toll of social isolation, ongoing in-person school disruptions, weather-related disasters, political division, and loss of support systems outside of families.
Even for families who are less affected by the most dramatic events, it’s hard to believe children aren’t at least aware of them.
Acknowledging the impact of enormous change on children’s lives allows us to show up with empathy for their emotional and behavioral changes.
Next, accept that children may exhibit new and unexpected behaviors.
Children lack the ability to express emotions, confusion, and fear in healthy ways. Heck, most of us adults aren’t so good at that. But kids have the additional challenge of lacking perspective and language to communicate their feelings.
Look for signs of withdrawal, outbursts, anxiety, school aversion (not wanting to go to school), insomnia, grades dropping, and change in appetite, among many other changes.
Then, when you notice unusual behaviors, accept them as communication and not intentional misbehavior.
By acknowledging and accepting changes before they happen, we can become more proactive, rather than reactive. Preparing for the impact of uncertain times helps us provide children a safe harbor from the crashing waves.
In this way, we show our children that even in the most difficult circumstances; we have the freedom to choose our response.