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Parenting Mojo Blog
As if the start of the year isn't filled with enough anxiety, here comes the COVID-protocol-but-what-about-academics-and-my-child-is-behind-and-will-she-be-safe start of school.
I want to talk about your feelings in this edition, because you really matter and because what you feel often gets transmitted to the child in front of you, even if you don't say anything. Kids are funny that way - they can read your heart.
Anxiety is fear where there's no present threat. Is it presently threatening to send your child into a building where the Delta variant is still very real? It could be. Is the school doing all it can to keep your child safe? Check it out and only send them if it feels as safe as it can be under these circumstances. If it doesn't, contact the school and ask for more safety. Or choose a different school or method of learning.
Now I have this to offer you, Dear Parent. Do what you can to assure the child's safety. Find out how to get free testing for your child or buy some home test kits for your peace of mind.
Then decide whether to visualize your child in peril, or in a safe welcoming environment. For the latter, which I recommend, visualize teachers, many with school-age children of their own, who are working VERY hard to make the school year satisfying to the students. Visualize that they have taken their own precautions to keep everyone safe, and that they are following district guidelines. Visualize that they realize that creating a warm environment overrides academics at the start of this year, that connecting with their students is what will help them feel safe enough to learn. Visualize that everyone is in "catch-up mode." You and your child are not alone.
Remember that no matter how much it seems like it does, worry never changes a situation for the better.
Ask yourself: "What if something goes very right today?" Do this over and over as a gift to you.
Then do what you can to exude confidence in your child's adaptability. Say, "Remember how you got through so much last year? I notice how you built some real skill in making it work. Nothing can take that skill away from you. You're taking it to school with you, and maybe you'll even have an opportunity to help other kids feel safe and included."
"I trust you to do your best."
These times are far from normal, but the lessons in them are invaluable in helping kids cope with the unexpected.
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I met Tina when she was presenting a workshop at the Children’s Mental Health conference. I received individual consultation from Tina as I learned to apply the techniques. I have found this approach to be extremely effective in my role as a parent, in my role as a school social worker, and in general, in any relationship I have with a child. Tina’s enthusiastic encouragement has inspired me to find creative ways to put this approach into action. Her gentle confrontation and use of stories as metaphors further enhanced my ability to learn and apply the techniques. She constantly reframed children’s behavior, guided me into a new perspective, and supported me in my efforts to expand my skills. Her unfailing belief in the inherent value and goodness in every child is contagious to parents and professionals.
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