A message from our Chief Culture & Well-being Officer.
We have been reflecting as a team upon the range of circumstances many children have been facing over this crisis. Life hasn’t been normal. EVERYTHING has been different and mental health professionals have shared that to varying degrees, every child is vulnerable. This isn’t because parents are doing a “bad job”, this is because families have it really tough right now, and these are some of the reasons why:
- There has been an increase in financial strain and job loss.
- Lack of family support (for example grandparents being unable to care for children or support family logistics due to self-isolation).
- Lack of community support for parents (inability for play dates, having friends over or going out for coffee increases social isolation).
- Limited/altered self-care opportunities (gyms are closed, friends not being able to catch up, constantly having children in the home all day). Of course families will be struggling! Increased anxiety in parents, equals increased anxiety in children.
We have experienced a collective trauma as a society and our children are not exempt from that. As our children begin to commence the journey of returning to school, childcare/kindy over the coming weeks, we cannot neglect to be aware of this collective trauma. We cannot neglect to see the world from the perspective of children. Just because life may be returning to “some sort of a new normal”, does not reduce the emotional impact of the last several months and how this impact might be impacting our children right now.
Our thinking brain engages best when we feel safe and we are in the middle of a crisis, so we need to respond to where children’s brains are at. As the adults in our children’s world, we need to meet them where they are with gentleness, patience and understanding. We must prioritize relationships, connections and belonging before anything else as we take steps to heal together.
Some simple steps that can support connection and emotional wellbeing might include:
– Allowing a little extra time after dinner to “chat” openly about any “worries” that your child may have.
– Reading stories and taking the time to “be curious” about the emotions and feelings of the characters (I wonder if the Panda is feeling worried about having to try something new?).
– Normalising worries and feelings as adults whilst demonstrating problem solving strategies- these conversations could happen while you are cooking dinner and your child is drawing at the kitchen bench . (For example, “I was feeling worried about going back to work last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to go into the office and change can make me nervous. So I decided to talk to call Grandma and chat about it. I felt so much better after our chat!”).
– Simply just having more time to snuggle on the couch with a good book together or having a laugh while playing a game. Sometimes the BEST thing we can do to connect with our children is to laugh and have fun as this releases chemicals in our brains that best support our capacity to connect emotionally with those around us.
We have had many families share that they are struggling with their child’s heightened emotional responses (including those of their school children). We thank you for speaking up and encourage anyone that is struggling to speak to your Centre Franchisee or Educational Leader. Partnerships with families in Early Childhood has always been of significant priority however, during this crisis, these partnerships are even more crucial for the wellbeing of our children. Please know we are here for you and as always, the wellbeing of you and your child is our top priority.