For parents and carers, this is an enormously stressful and challenging time now that the schools are closed. Aim to prioritise moments in the day to recharge and destress – you cannot pour from an empty cup!
Don’t expect your child to work in the same way at home that they would in school.
Be aware of your expectations – set clear boundaries but be realistic.
Create a timetable or routine with your children – agree on something together and be prepared to change it if it isn’t working.
Have plenty of breaks and opportunities to play/be creative/move.
Primary aged children should read each day and practise maths, but other subjects can wait if necessary. KS1 children (R- Yr 2) should only do approx.. 2 hours of work a day and KS2 (Yr 3 -6) should do around 3-4 hours, but this also includes movement and creative work.
Praise the child’s effort and focus less on achievement.
Allow good days and bad days and don’t battle through the school work if it is causing unnecessary arguments and upset. Take a break and try again the following day.
Michael Rosen’s ‘Book of Play’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Rosens-Book-Play-matters/dp/1788161904) emphasises that playing with our children enhances our relationship and connection with them. There is a lot written about the importance of play therapy but it can be as simple as playing a board game and now is the perfect time. It gives children a sense of safety and secure attachment, which is so important right now.
It is normal and understandable for tensions to be high in your household, so forgive yourselves and each other for bad moods and irritability. Children will most likely be more challenging than usual as a result of change.
Aim to validate your child’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. This creates empathy and connection, which will help to resolve the conflict.
When tensions run high, give everyone the chance for 5 minutes of space. We cannot rationalise or think clearly when we are stressed (as our brains are flooded with the stress hormone, cortisol) – this goes for children too, so don’t attempt to reason with them when they are angry/upset/frustrated, etc.
Allow yourself time to choose your response and boundaries as a parent. Therapist Mandy Saligari talks about this brilliantly in her TED talk, which I highly recommend. Choose a time when you are in a good emotional place to watch this as she is quite frank!
There are some very effective APPs for easing tension, most notably Headspace and Calm, which have some free material.
There are many ways to destress and it is important to discuss, recognise and explore what works for everyone in the family.
For more information or questions about this topic or any others mentioned, please get in touch.
APCAM (Assisting Parents of Children Affected By Mental Health) is a charity based in Oxfordshire, who do amazing work to support families who are struggling with mental health and emotional difficulties. More information can be found at https://apcamgroup.org.uk