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Elementary School Counseling Corner

As we all face the challenge of a new “normal” during the coming weeks, the MTLSD Elementary School Counseling Team thought you would find benefit in having resources with helpful suggestions and information for navigating your days at home.  In this special edition issue, you will find resources for helping to establish family routines during the school closure, community resources, and strategies for talking to your children about the Coronavirus. We hope your entire family is well.  Please reach out to your school counselor if you have any concerns or needs. -The Elementary School Counseling Team

Family Routines


As children are home from school during this closure, it is more important than ever to create a daily schedule.  Schedules can include family time, learning time, crafts, reading, cooking, exercise, play, music, and chores. Routines ultimately create the comfort that is found in stability and predictability.

Read below for more information about creating a family schedule.

Family Schedules from American Academy of Pediatrics

How to Keep Up Healthy Routines from Psychology Today


Talking to Your Children About Coronavirus

Children look to the adults in their lives to help them understand their environment and how they should respond to COVID-19. During this time, it is important to keep a predictable routine, as well as make yourself available to your children to discuss their worries and concerns. It is important to stay calm and reassuring, while also monitoring what your child is viewing on television and social media. Below are a few resources to help talk to children about COVID-19.

A Parent Resource from the National Association of School Psychologists

Coronavirus from the American Academy of Pediatrics

How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus from PBS Kids

Helping Your Child to Manage Anxiety


Community Resource

Food

Financial Utilities

Mental/ Behavioral Health

 


Information for Parents to Help Their Children Deal With Anxiety During the Covid-19 Pandemic

In this time with all this uncertainty and typical life being disrupted, we are all feeling anxious including children.  Our children may not know what is going on, but they do know that something is different. For many of us this will cause:

  • restlessness

  • fatigue

  • trouble concentrating  

  • irritability                                                                    

  • muscle tension

  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)

 

Behaviors

Children 5 and under

Children 5-10

Children 10 - Adult

Restlessness

Hyperactivity, rough play

Difficulty sitting still; wandering around house

 

Difficulty sitting still;moving even when sitting


 

Fatigue

Sleepiness, whining

Napping during the day

Napping even with 8 hours sleep; too much sleep

Trouble concentrating

Difficulty sticking with one activity

Difficulty finishing work, a movie, a show

Easily distracted, unable to finish projects

Irritability

Whining, crying, yelling, hitting, kicking, biting

Fighting more with siblings, talking back to family

Lashing out without a known reason; more irritated or angry than usual

Muscle tension

Aches and pains in back, head, or neck

Head, neck or back pain

Headaches, neck or back pain

Trouble sleeping

Nightmares, wanting to sleep with you, difficulty sleeping through the night

Nightmares, wanting to sleep with you, difficulty sleeping through the night

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

Separation issues

Clinging to you, difficulty being alone

   

 

Many of these symptoms may seem just like you or your child’s normal temperament.  If you have not seen any changes, then your child may not be having any difficulty, YAY!  But if you do notice any of the above changes, you, or they may be feeling anxious, and just unable to understand or express how they are feeling.  Talk with them about their feelings. Do they feel scared or anxious? Explain that the feeling is normal, that when there is something happening and we don’t know why, that it does cause us to feel scared or anxious.  Encourage them to talk about it. Often just talking about it can help people feel better. To know that what you are feeling is normal, or that others feel the same way can be reassuring. But often we need other coping skills.

Ways to cope with anxiety:

  • Keep a routine, even if it is not your typical routine.  Develop a routine for the day, wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, play inside/work on schoolwork, eat lunch, etc.
  • Get outside.  Even though we cannot go to the movies, libraries, museums, we can still go outside and play in the yard, go for a walk, or go to the park.  Make this part of your routine.  
  • Practice mindfulness and help your children practice mindfulness.  For younger children, help them take deep breaths. Possibly when you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, stop and ask your child to take a deep breath with you.  For older children ask them to sit and notice things going on around them. Turn off the tv or radio, what can they hear? Walk through the house without their shoes or socks on, what did they feel with their feet?  While they are eating is it crunchy, spicy, sweet? What are 5 things they can see, describe one of them. This will help them be present in the moment and distract them from things that might be worrying them. For adolescents and above, use your 5 senses to reduce anxiety.  What are 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.

 

-Information from Addiction Medicine Services
Western Psychiatric Hospital of UPMC