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Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t, to keep a calm household in uncertain times
This article provides information about what we can control in our households to calm fears, worries and big emotions. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
In uncertain times, it’s easy for the big “what ifs” to consume our minds. In recent years, most people have never seen these types of extremes and it tends to create fear and panic.
Disruptions in child routines, adjusting work schedules, school closures, food and supply shortages, not to mention the worries of illness are taking over all rational thought and our ability to stay calm.
If you think kids can’t sense your anxiety, stress, fears and concern, think again. Even if a child doesn’t always know what is happening, they can sense your mood and reaction in certain situations. Even if they don’t know what’s going on or they don’t understand the full scope, they may become anxious themselves as they feel your uneasiness.
How can we keep a calm home during uncertain times?
One of the most difficult things is to keep a household calm when we are probably not feeling calm ourselves. Our distress and unrest is affecting the whole household. Many people are thinking, “How long will this last?”, “Will I lose a job”, “Will I have enough food for my family?”, “How can I explain this to my child?”.
All these questions are completely normal. In uncertain times, our emotional centers of the brain tend to take over, which make it difficult to think logically and rationally, especially when it comes to our kids.
We may lash out unexpectedly, communicate less, lose patience, and react immediately. The silver lining is that it also gives us more perspective. We hug our kids more often, we cry with them, we hold them close and tell them how much we love them. In a busy world, it allows us to slow down and reflect on those things that are most important.
If you are feeling a mix of emotions and don’t know how to talk with your kids, take this time as an opportunity rather than let fear take over. Here are a few ways you can help keep a calm your home.
Focus on what you can control
Right now, many of you may be feeling out of control. You may not know if you have enough supplies and food to ride out the storm, you may not have a paycheck coming in, you are not sure if you can pay for daycare, the markets are tanking, a recession might be on the horizon, schools and parks are closed and much more.
You may not be able to control what is happening in the market, at your job or with the schools, but we can control what happens in our homes with our kids.
Take this opportunity to keep a routine and schedule. Most kids still thrive on structure. If you are struggling, like most of us, here are a few alternatives when you feel limited, out of control, emotional, or bored out of your mind!
*We can’t control park closures, but we can still try nature walks, hikes or bike rides in our neighborhoods. Keep in mind, physical activity is one of the biggest stress relievers for all of us and can calm our anxiousness as well as our child’s.
*We can’t control museum, amusement park, library, gym or daycare closures. However, we can still provide our kids with much needed gross motor and developmental activity. Build forts in your house or make obstacle courses in your backyard with furniture, pillows, bar stools, tables and any other household items you may have. Keep those kids climbing, jumping, throwing balls, kicking balls and any other activities that exert energy. This not only calms the body, promotes better attention and focus, but also gives kids and parents an outlet for any emotional and internal stress.
*We can’t control school closures, but that doesn’t mean our kids can’t stop learning. Take out the cans and boxes in your pantry and set-up your own grocery center in your home. Kids can count the items, scan them and total up the prices. It’s a great activity to continue building their math skills. There are many fine motor activities, art projects, science experiments and other activities online that will continue to promote learning in the home. Many schools are sending home curriculum for kids to continue their studies. Take advantage of this time to connect with your child and get to know where they are struggling, their weaknesses in learning, their strengths, where they excel and what we can do as parents to challenge them more.
*We can’t control restaurant closures, but we can make cooking, baking and even eating different and fun. Cooking and baking gives us the opportunity to talk and connect with our kids. We can have our kids help measure, dish, serve and even clean with us. Make fun games out of baking and cooking. Kids can pretend to host their own baking shows in your house, have a mock cooking competition or even show them a few tricks with utensils and food items. It’s also a great opportunity for picnics. It can be just out in your backyard, their bedroom (if you dare) or on a nature trail that is open. A new location can make it seem fun and new.
*We can’t control everything our kids see or hear. Most kids are exposed to some form of media, whether that be Internet, TV, video games or even just families discussing hard times. If our kids hear or see something that makes them concerned, it’s best to talk with them about it. Discuss with them only what they hear or are worried about. Even though there may be more to a situation, we don’t want their worries to grow. This is especially important for kids with learning challenges. Everyday kids often have worries, but kids struggling with a diagnosis or a learning challenge can have heightened emotions. Keep explanations in simple terms and only provide them with the information at hand. Adding in more information or details can cause additional stress or concern.
*We can’t control curfews, road closures or household lock downs. We can, however, control the amount of electronics, TV and video games our kids watch. The wonderful thing about social media is many of the museums, zoos, Disney and libraries have taken their story times online. Brilliant! This gives our kids the opportunity to still learn and grow at home even when we can’t leave. Having said that, we encourage all kids to put down the electronics and take part in other constructive learning activities. Additional time on electronics can also heighten big emotions that we want to calm, so putting our focus on more physical activity is going to counteract the additional time they spend on iPads and electronic devices. We want to keep those minds active and awakened for learning. The brain still needs activities to learn and grow.
Above all, remember you are doing the best you can with the hand you’ve been dealt with. Participating in these activities may even help your stress levels to go down, it may put your own mind and body at ease, and it will help you worry less about your kids’ well-being so you can focus on long-term plans that may affect jobs, income and survival.
Integrated Movement Activity Center
If you still feel your child has not developed the necessary skills for learning readiness, there is more you can do to help.
The Integrated Movement Activity Center provides parents and therapists with step-by-step videos to strengthen all areas of the body and the brain. Parents and professionals can use the activity center to help their kids and students “awaken” the brain for higher learning development.
For more information or to enroll, click here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs