7 ways adults can take the lead and help young people find stability in uncertain times
I just wanted to share some thoughts with you about making the most of this challenging situation that we all find ourselves in and finding ways to help our children cope and indeed thrive over the coming weeks.
Everyone that knows me, knows that I am the queen of quotes, this is definitely my favourite at the moment.
“There are dark clouds,” said the boy. Yes. but they will move on.” said the horse, “the blue sky above never leaves.”
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse - Charlie Mackesy
No one can argue that we are facing a very uncertain and challenging time. I have been working with young people as a child behaviour specialist for 18 years now and being in schools this week and witnessing the reactions of our children and young people as they leave their friends, teachers and schools has been very difficult. They have had to walk away from exams that they have worked towards, some of them will still be in school, some will not. Some will still be able to see their friends and family, some will not. Our children may feel scared and unsure about the immediate future and are going to take their lead from us as adults on how to manage their feelings, behaviour and their new reality.
So I thought I would share some of my thoughts of ways to help you lessen the impact of this situation.
Make a timetable with them
I know, everyone is saying it, so no great revelation there. Everyone is saying it because it is so important. Our children, in fact, most of us feel safe in routine and structure. Their day in school is clearly set out for them, that way they know what is coming and for many children that can take anxiety around the unknown away. Therefore planning a Monday to Friday timetable with your children will allow them to feel a sense of control and familiarity. That timetable will look different for every family, it just has to work for yours. Also remember that the weekends should still be the weekends, the timetable goes out the window! Also expect a little bit of push back from your children around the timetable once the novelty of this wears off. Something I usually end up saying to parents I meet is that ‘it’s our job to set the boundaries and it’s their job to try to push them.’ Right now we need to keep the boundaries strong and although they may not show it, they really want you to do this.
Let’s get moving
Again, obvious I know. There is a sense of newness at the moment and the lovely Joe Wicks is doing his very best to keep our children moving but like with most things, human beings tend to lose their momentum as things become familiar and with that there is a danger that we may forget how important it is to move, not only for our physical well being but also for our emotional well being. There are so many great things out there at the moment to help our children stay active which is great. I believe even Oti from Strictly is doing something. So, whether it is putting your dancing shoes on, working out with Joe, walking your dog or just running around in the garden, please remember the importance of encouraging our children to stay active.
Let’s get cooking
A recent survey showed that the happiest childhood memory for many people was baking. I would definitely echo those findings. For many of us, finding the time to do that with our children has become a luxury. So although this is a unique set of circumstances that we are facing, maybe we can use this time to create those memories for our children.
A note about learning
Of course, the education of our children is extremely important and I’m sure that their teachers do during their very best to ensure that they are able to continue with their learning. However, it is important that we stay realistic with this. Are our children going to learn everything at home over the coming weeks that they would have learned at school? The simple answer is no. What I feel is important here is that they keep up with what they have already learned, that they are completing the learning activities that their teachers have set for them as this will keep them in the routine of learning. It is important to keep in mind that all of our children will come back into school and pick up where they left off, the playing field will be level and from what I know about the teachers in your school, they will do everything they can to ensure your children are ready for their next stage of learning.
Mindfulness and staying calm
Dare I book the trend and say these, in my opinion, are two different things. Being mindful is about being present, completely in the moment and giving full attention to what you are doing. A very important and useful skill to have for everyone. Feeling and being calm are just that, feeling and being calm. So I’m wondering right now if instead of teaching our children mindfulness as a way of being calm, maybe what we try to show them is ‘calm’. Like I said, our children are looking to us for guidance on how to feel and behave. We are in a unique position to teach them a calm way to deal with challenging situations, by showing them.
Ignite their love of reading
Right up there with baking, listening to Mum or Dad read to you has got to be one of the best childhood memories. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, our busy lives have dictated that bedtime stories have had to be shelved. Pun intended. So to help fill in the extra hours we now have, can I suggest choosing a book and getting comfy on the sofa. David Walliams is doing some book readings each day which is great but reading it with Mum or Dad will again help to make those great memories.
Taking part in creative activities can be really helpful in times of anxiety or distress but they are also just great fun. If you only just survived the ‘slime’ take over, it’s time to embrace it again or whatever the latest craze may be. When we take part in creative activities, we use a different part of our brain to the part that deals with day to day tasks. This is the part that can promote the feeling of well being and if you put some quiet music on in the background, that feeling gets an extra boost.
Remember, these are challenging and uncertain times for everyone regardless of age. There is no manual on how to react to the current situation we all find ourselves in and your mental wellbeing is just as important as that of the children around you.
Make time to talk to people about your worries and concerns, friends, coworkers, partner, etc, as you will likely discover that they are mirrored in those you speak to.
If you feel you would like some further advice, please feel free to reach out. tome. andI will do my very best to help.
You can reach me on Tracey@BeingGirlsClub.co.uk
Be safe, look after each other, and have a great week.