First of all, I want to say to every parent and guardian in the Garden Room— you’re doing great. These are unprecedented times and despite that, I see how hard all of you are working to care for and teach your children right now in Abeona’s absence. In the most recent check in survey many of you have expressed that your child is having difficult behaviors at home—non-compliance, anger, frustration, low self esteem, etc. I would like to address that these reactions are completely normal. Children deal with stress in many different ways. I’ve included a link below with great resources on how to check in with your child, how to reduce their stress at home, and how to provide distraction from these scary times. Here are some examples of behavior, and how myself and Ms. Shannon would recommend handling them in an “Abeona way”.
- “No”/Anger/frustration- ex: “Whenever I ask my child to do a Zoom meeting with their class they get really angry and tantrum, or refuse to comply.”
A child who appears oppositional or aggressive may be reacting to anxiety they can’t articulate.
- We’re seeing a lot of anger and frustration from our friends in the Garden Room. This reaction is very valid. Our children are upset that they can’t communicate with and play with their friends in the way that they have known their whole life. It is important to give space for these feelings. Just like adults, they need to feel their emotions in order to move past them. When our friends are feeling angry or upset in the Garden Room, we ask if they need space. An appropriate amount of time for space would be anywhere from 3-5 minutes. After they’ve calmed down try to talk about what they are feeling. If they aren’t big talkers offer them a “feelings journal”. Once they have moved past their upsetting feelings try to revisit how they were feeling.
- Examples of parent responses could be: Tell me how you’re feeling right now? Where do you feel that in your body? It’s okay that you’re feeling upset. Would you like some space? When you’re ready, let’s talk about it. Here is your feelings journal, can you show me how you’re feeling? Would you like to do ___ or ____?
- Remember that our children don’t feel in control. Showing them small ways that they have autonomy is really important. Whether it be picking out their clothes, choosing their lunch, picking a game to play, whatever. Let them have as much control as possible right now
- Low self esteem- ex: “My child gets very down when I try to do an activity with them, they say they can’t do it before they’ve even tried.”
- Another valid response to a crisis is sadness and low self esteem. Our children may feel small and ineffectual right now. It’s hard for our kids to conceptualize why things are happening. They may understand that people are “sick”, but people are sick all of the time and we still go to school and see our friends, teachers, families, etc. Our children may not understand why this is different. They may feel that they are being “punished”, or left behind by their community.
- Take time to connect with your child, schedule friend play dates via facetime or Zoom, schedule one on one times with us, have family nights. Any ways that we can make our children feel loved and wanted and secure right now is worth doing.
It’s important to remember that there is no quick fix to challenging behaviors right now. We can do our best to model better ways to handle stressors but ultimately the world is still going through a very serious pandemic. We can’t expect our children to be their “normal” selves. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. Stay strong Garden Room!