Thank you to those that joined the HPC Meeting and very informative Parent Ed talk last night. Psychotherapist Rachel Tucker walked us through the various different types of anxiety our kids can experience including situational, anticipatory, social, test/school, health, and climate worries and the different ways they may present.
She then briefly introduced a total of 22 different strategies that can help, including working on our own anxiety as parents (number one!), creating age-appropriate visual schedules and plans, using a safe word/hand signal to discreetly share a hard moment, and suggested talking to our kids about their day in low eye-contact environments, like driving in the car or on a walk, and the importance of really listening, repeating what they say back to them to show you understand, and asking related questions like, “How much of your day are you thinking about this?”
Children experiencing anxiety benefit from hearing that their parents can be there to “help them hold it,” so they feel less alone, and by creating mantras such as, “Right now, I am completely safe,” and, “Sometimes my worried brain says things that aren’t true.” Calming breathing exercises and, on the flip side, physical exertion are also tools; “Exercise is free medicine for anxiety,” she said.
Rachel talked about the importance of having a library of children's books about anxiety around as that can help children identify with and process what they may be feeling, and encouraged talking to a children’s librarian (“National Treasures!”) for targeted suggestions. We will be sharing a PDF of Rachel’s talking points with HPC in the coming days for those that would like more detail.
This talk was organized by HPC in order to help address a need identified on campus and to aid us as a parent community to better support the social and emotional health of our children. To paraphrase Principal Dolid’s point last night - sometimes what is happening on the playground is harder work for students than what is happening in the classroom. We hope this talk and Q&A helped parents to better identify the anxious feelings their students may understandably be having during this time, and provided a tool kit of ideas to pull from should any “worry loops” start spinning.
April and Val