I think each one of us would agree that the last two months have full of change that leaves us feeling anxious. And this change has affected most areas of life and added new roles for us to navigate. Now, we are not only a parent, but we have also become our kids main sources for education, fun, friends, cooks, cleaners, doctors and etc. 

 

Anxious child working on school work.

Let’s focus today on the new role of teacher or co-teacher. I don’t know about you, but being my children’s teacher over the past two months as come with some big highs and deep lows. In this role, as we are learning more about our kids, how they learn, and the growth and challenges they face academically each day. We may have moments where we feel connected and our kids are enjoying school. And in the next moment feel as though we are failing our kids as we battle with the child who is crying over a broken pencil, refusing to read for 30 minutes a day, or ripping up a math paper you just spent the last two hours helping them with.

All kids and parents are going to hit a wall from time to time. It might be struggling with technology, a math assignment, worry about a large assignment, or just sadness about the changes that have taken place in life. This place of overwhelm is often where we see anxiety come up. For some, the anxiety makes them feel so overwhelmed that they just give up. For others, it can show up as a struggle for perfectionism.

So how do we address anxiety and schooling at home?

 

  • Give your kids the space to feel this way. Things rarely gets better by asking kids to try harder. Empathize with them and validate the feelings of overwhelm. Instead of telling them it’s going to be okay or to stop crying/ripping papers/yelling, try saying something like “Wow! You have some big feelings. This feels really overwhelming and you wonder if you’ll ever get it.” or “I wonder if you are feeling sad and missing your friends.” Sometimes just naming the feeling and connecting it to the experience helps everyone recognize and address what is really going on.
  • Get their bodies moving! Help them flip upside down when they begin to feel overwhelmed or do 15 jumping jacks, try a brain break activity online such as “Go Noodle” or take a walk around the neighborhood. Physical activity helps to regulate the body and to feel more grounded. It uses the energy of these intense emotions making it easier for everyone to re-engage with the thinking part of our brains rather than the emotional part. And, make sure to build regular movement breaks into your daily routines. In a typical classroom they move to sharpen their pencil, or go to the carpet for reading time, or change between classes. All of these times allow our kids brains to take a break from learning, and they still need that today.
  • Make a plan together. Every day and every person in our homes have their own unique needs and ways of meeting those needs. We can help our kids by working together to make plans to meet those needs. If they’ve got a big project, work together to break it down into manageable tasks. Work together to decide when school starts, ends, and when you are available to help. And acknowledge that every day has its own unique needs. So find a routine and collaborate each day to adapt your family plan to meet those unique needs. The key is working together. The more our kids feel they are a part of the schedule, the more likely they are to work within the schedule.
  • Take a “mental” health day if possible. Sometimes we all just need a break. This may mean taking the day off from school and making it up later, or taking the morning off and doing something else. Be gentle and kind to yourself and your kids. We are all navigating new experiences. None of us have ever lived through a pandemic before. And doing this well sometimes means taking a step back and connecting on a relational level before re-engaging with school and other tasks.

 

Jessi Sigander, PhD.

Dr. Jessi Sigander is native to the Northwest and loves reading, traveling, and learning. Jessi is the founder and creator of Brain Break Through Therapy, a holistic approach based in N.O.T. to address anxiety, trauma, and dyslexia in the body. Jessi’s background is in education with BA in education, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and a PhD in Educational Leadership. ACT Parenting Community is a program of The Brain Breakthrough.  

The other evening, our home was on the brink of exploding. The pressure had been building since the morning. 

My youngest woke-up a bear and was grumpy because I forgot to buy his favorite cereal and started pleading with me to go get him more cereal right at that moment. No! I was not going to go to the store right then to buy more.

My oldest came stomping into my make-shift office, declaring how unfair it was that he had to clean the bathroom. Really? I had just spent the last hour doing dishes, sweeping, and picking up random crap all over the house and all he needed to do was clean one bathroom.

Every simple request regarding schoolwork was met with resistances or outright defiance. “NO! I will not do my math!” “What! I have to do reading? I read yesterday!!”

And in the middle of this I was also supposedly working, seeing clients and attempting to be present to their needs at the same time. 

Every little thing increased the pressure and I could feel myself getting ready to explode. 

The thing with pressure is that it will keep building unless it’s released.

Release can either be an explosion of yelling, tears, slamming doors, and broken connection in my relationships or a controlled redirection of the energy. 

One of my favorite ways to redirect the energy is to just STOP and do something different. Below are some of my favorite ways to redirect the pressure before it becomes destructive.

Music.

Turning on my favorite Spotify playlist and letting my body move to the music. Sometimes its just me moving to the music. Sometimes it turns into a family dance party. But the music and movement allows the energy to release from the body, gets the happy hormones flowing in the body, and puts a smile on my face.

Create.

Creativity is not about creating some Pinterest worthy project. Creativity helps us get outside the box and shifts our perspective. Sure you can draw or paint but cooking, gardening, writing, dig a hole, sidewalk chalk are great creative outlets as well. 

Play.

Everyone, not just kids, need to play. Play not only is fun but it strengthens our attachment with each other. Pick something that makes you laugh or at least puts a smile on your face. It doesn’t have to be for a long time. You can set a timer for 10 minutes and play a board game, build Legos, do a puzzle, throw the Frisbee. 

President

Hannah Benedict

Hannah Benedict is a northwest native as well and loves anything that gets her outside, baking, and reading. Through her coaching practice, Hannah partners with people to give them practical solutions for intentional living. She has a master’s degree in counseling, specializing in children and adolescents, a B.S. in Human Development, and is a master’s level PCI® Certified Parent Coach. As well as coaching, Hannah teaches workshop, trainings, and has over 15 years of experience as an educator in a variety of settings.  

 

I have never been a person who has struggled with anxiety much…until the last few weeks. 

Suddenly, every day tasks are overwhelmed by racing thoughts.

The unknown of tomorrow causes leaves me with a tight feeling in my chest. And soon I’m not longer responding to myself or my family from my rational thinking brain. Rather, my emotions have taken over and I find myself yelling at my kids more, crying over the small stuff, and snapping at my partner. 

And it’s not just me. The outward expression of the anxiety differs for all of us, but we all experience it. For some it’s more frequent meltdowns, others experience a desperate need for any feeling of control.

I hear it in the raised voices in our house. I see it in the hiding away in their room, door closed and the “Do not Disturb” sign taped firmly to the door. 

This change has caused me to stop and think: how do I help myself and my family release the energy that’s building up in our bodies from the anxiety?”

Here are 3 things we’re doing in our family. They are simple, effective, and can help your family experience more calm too. 

 

 

Get Upside Down!

Flipping upside down helps to calm down the body by stimulating our vestibular system. Have you children do a handstand, hang off monkey bars, do a cartwheel, or hang off the couch to calm their anxiety down. Parents, you can do this too. Try hanging your head off the side of your bed or doing a forward bend. Hang for at least 20 seconds and notice the changes in your body.

Engage the Peace Blanket.

Pressure is an important part of calming our bodies. Use your hands to engage important pressure points on your head. Place one hand on the back of your head and the other on the front of your forehead. Leave your hands there for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. I often use the Peace Blanket on myself at night when I can’t calm my brain down enough to go to sleep or when my kids are restless and can’t get settled.

Happy Hugs.

In the days of physical distancing from our close friends and extended families, our bodies are getting less physical touch. However, touch is an important part of regulating the body and has even been shown to release the “feel good” hormones, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. With those in your immediate household, make sure you are getting and giving hugs every day!

President

Jessi Sigander, PhD.

Dr. Jessi Sigander is native to the Northwest and loves reading, traveling, and learning. Jessi is the founder and creator of Brain Break Through Therapy, a holistic approach based in N.O.T. to address anxiety, trauma, and dyslexia in the body. Jessi’s background is in education with BA in education, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and a PhD in Educational Leadership. ACT Parenting Community is a program of The Brain Breakthrough.