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  • Writer's picturedrjennifer_tauks

Parents and Caregivers: You Don't Need to Know It All

As we wind down this year and gear up for 2022, thoughts of unpredictability continue to follow. For some, 2021 brought some sense of stability back to our lives, even though most are still feeling the long-term effects of COVID-19. And here we are, days away from 2022, with unforeseeable circumstances looming. Will our children return to school, or do we have to deal with all of the hardships of remote learning? What does the health and safety of our children’s future look like during this unsettled time? If we as parents and caregivers are feeling anxious about knowing how to handle these ongoing, unexpected times, so are our children. Here are FIVE ways to support your child without having to know the answers.

1. Confirm: Acknowledging that this is a difficult time, listen to what the child is saying and confirm their feelings. You do not need to have the answers and “fix” the emotion, but it means you are safe, loving, and acknowledging.

2. Listen: Listening demonstrates to your child that you are supporting and trusting them. It does not require any form of treatment modality. It provides your child with your respect to know they can rely on your support.

3. Follow Their Path: Don’t assume your child is always anxious or nervous about unpredictable situations. Their feelings may be unpredictable too. Support the “here and now” and acknowledge the normalcy in that.

4. Establish Routines: If there is a disruption in the upcoming school year, establishing routines provide predictability in the home. Structure academic time, lunchtime, exercise, play, etc. Encourage forms of socialization while practicing safety measures as needed.

5. Protect: If you are noticing your child is struggling academically, socially, and/or emotionally, continue to reach out to your school and community resources. Together, you can provide help and safety to your child.

Different children may want and need different things when it comes to upcoming unpredictability. Follow your child’s lead and don’t assume your feelings are the same as theirs during this time. You don’t have to “know it all” to help them navigate and support them through these challenging times. Parental and caregiver support is one of the most protective factors when it comes to reducing the risk of long-term mental health issues for our children.

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