WRITTEN BY THE AIS WELLBEING TEAM, AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SINGAPORE
COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live. Families are facing a whole new set of challenges which have the potential for varying levels of anxieties. In this article, the AIS Wellbeing Team provide some helpful strategies to use whilst we are working together to flatten the curve.
It can be hard to find the silver lining of COVID-19. However, if we shift our mindset, this unprecedented time has led to some extraordinary opportunities for which we can all be grateful. It has given parents the opportunity to better understand our children as learners and to be directly involved in their learning. It has enabled us to spend more time together as families, building positive relationships and close-knit connections whilst enabling our children to feel happier, safer and more relaxed during the most unusual of circumstances.
We hope the information below enhances parent’s ‘toolkits’ and provides resources to help manage anxieties whilst focusing on family wellbeing.
How can I help my family?
Firstly, it’s important to care for your own emotional wellbeing and seek support if you need it. Often, the way a child responds to stress is by mirroring the reactions of those around them. Try to remain calm and positive and show care for each other.
Effective and active listening skills enable you to really hear and understand any worries or anxieties your child may have. Feeling truly heard relieves anxiety and strengthens the parent-child relationship. Please see this websitefor further information.
Circle of Control
By focusing our energies and problem-solving abilities on what we can control, we can relieve anxiety and improve our mental health and capacity to cope. Focusing on areas of life beyond our control can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts.
Encourage your teens to proactively reach out to their friends and classmates via available means. This sense of connection is important to their wellbeing and helps to retain a sense of normalcy in their lives. See here for more ideas.
There are many fabulous free apps which can help to maintain and improve emotional wellbeing for both parents and children. Try these apps to improve your child’s focus, eliminate distraction and avoid procrastination.
What are the signs that my child might be struggling?
A significant change in behaviour is a good way to tell if your child is struggling with their mental health. Given the current situation and subsequent changes to daily life, this might be harder than normal to identify. Try to trust your instincts; a substantial change in normal behaviour patterns may warrant further investigation.
Sleeping: Teenagers need around nine hours of sleep each day. Whilst sleep is important to a growing body, a significant variation from this could flag an underlying mental health concern.
Diet: Is your child eating a lot more or less than normal, or restricting certain food groups? Be sure to account for growth spurts or reduced physical activity (due to the Circuit Breaker) when assessing eating habits.
Emotion regulation: Mood swings and emotional outbursts are a normal part of growing up; your child is learning about their emotions and how to regulate them. However, if your child is uncharacteristically moody, angry or sad, it’s helpful to explore why they might be feeling this way.
Social connections: Whilst we currently need to physically isolate, this doesn’t mean we need to socially isolate. As your child grows older, their peers become increasingly important in their life. If your child isn’t connecting with their peers, talk to them about this. They might need some advice about other ways to connect with friends.
Energy levels: Being at home, stationary and on the laptop can be very draining. You’re probably feeling more tired than usual and so are children. However, if your child appears very fatigued, you may need to seek further advice from a school counsellor or mental health professional.
Decline in academic performance: Our children are learning in a completely new way and it will take time for them to adjust. However, if your child’s academic performance has significantly declined, you may wish to seek further advice.
If you’re an AIS parent and you have concerns about your child, please reach out to the Wellbeing Team here: StaffSecondaryCounsellors@ais.com.sg