NORFOLK – Children are facing an unprecedented level of stress this school year. Whether they’re learning virtually from home or returning to the classroom, life as they knew it has changed. CHKD parent educator Michele Tryon said one of the best ways parents and guardians can help is by keeping their composure.
“We keep our composure as much as possible because they really model our composure” said Tryon. “If we have an optimistic outlook about all of this, then they will kind of pick up on that.”
Tryon said it’s also important to be compassionate and acknowledge children’s feelings.
“If they're being kind of irritable or they're showing us through their behavior that they're stressed out a little bit, we want to have compassion for that,” said Tryon. “I can see that you're angry. I can see that you're upset. I can see that you're frustrated. So we're validating what they're feeling.”
Tryon explained that it’s also key to challenge children to press forward.
“We're not going to say just because, you know, things are hard right now you don't have to do your schoolwork, or you don't have to do your chores, or it's okay for you to stay in bed until noon,” said Tryon. “[Have] expectations for them that they're capable of meeting, and then they can feel good about who they are and what they contribute.”
Tryon said children manifest distress differently, so it’s important to keep an eye on how they’re coping.
“Maybe they're more irritable than usual. Maybe they're having trouble sleeping, or you see that they're eating more or less than they had been,” explained Tryon. “If you think it becomes more than distress and something that you can’t support your child through, then that would be your kind of red flag that you need to reach out maybe to a professional or someone at the school or someone here at CHKD and the mental health department.”