As the kids start going back to school, we all need to check in with each other and make sure we’re adequately prepared to shift gears into a new phase.
The way we live our lives has drastically changed this year. Families are facing a whole new set of challenges – challenges that can trigger anxiety in different levels and forms. The Wellbeing Team at the Australian International School (AIS) have been actively working with staff and students to help address these feelings as we enter into our “new normal”, while also providing helpful strategies to use as we work together to get Singapore back on its feet again.
The past few months, tough though they’ve been, have given parents the opportunity to better understand their children as learners and to be directly involved in their education. It has enabled us to spend more time together as families, building positive relationships and close-knit connections while enabling our children to feel happier, safer and more relaxed during these rocky times.
Even with this silver lining, though, parents need all the assistance they can get in developing a “toolbox” of helpful strategies for coping with change. With this in mind, the AIS Wellbeing Team have outlined some things to watch out for in our kids, and some advice on what we can do to help.\
Look for the signs
It’s hard to untangle what is “normal” behaviour anymore, but here are a few things to look for that might suggest that your child is not coping.
Sleeping: If you have teenagers, they will need at least nine hours of sleep. If your child’s sleep patterns are broken or they’re not sleeping at all, this can be a red flag for anxiety or depression.
Diet: Is your child eating a lot more or less than normal, or restricting certain food groups?
Emotion regulation: Mood swings and emotional outbursts are normal at the best of times. But, if your child is uncharacteristically moody, angry or sad, it’s helpful to explore why they might be feeling this way.
Social connections: If your child isn’t connecting with their peers (remotely), talk to them about this. They might need some advice about other ways to connect with friends.
A decline in academic performance: Children are learning in a completely new way and it will take time for them to adjust, but if your child’s academic performance has significantly declined, you may wish to seek further advice.
What can I do to help?
Self-care: It’s important to care for your own emotional wellbeing and seek support if you need it. The way a child responds to stress is by mirroring the reactions of those around them. Try to remain calm and positive and show care for each other.
Active listening: Effective and active listening skills enable you to really hear and understand any worries or anxieties your child may have.
Circle of control: By focusing our energies and problem-solving abilities on what we can control, we can relieve anxiety and improve our mental health and capacity to cope. We’re all doing our best, and that is the best that we can do. If you have any concerns about you or your child, do reach out to a healthcare professional.
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