DUBAI: Many parents expected that, come September, their children would be back at school and all would be right with the world. As government measures to ensure the health and safety of children continue in Saudi Arabia, however, you and your kids could be finding it difficult to keep calm and carry on with homeschooling.
How can parents help their little ones cope with the mental, emotional and even physical pressures they’re facing?
“Our brains like order, so scheduling can help keep the brain calm,” said Reem Shaheen, counseling psychologist and clinical director at the BE Psychology Center for Emotional Wellbeing in Dubai. “Establish daily and weekly routines, the daily schedules for example should break down the day’s different types of school work, as well as incorporating play, exercise and relaxation time and breaks for meals. This ensures there are no surprises and helps children feel less uncertain in what is an unpredictable time.”
What’s also important is keeping the family’s mood uplifted. “Carrying out activities such as sports, listening to music, cooking, drawing and painting can help release happy hormones, keeping the whole family feeling rejuvenated,” explained Shaheen. “These activities can also contribute to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which not only makes you feel love and trust it keeps stress hormone cortisol at bay.”
Shaheen also believes it’s important to check in with school mates to retain some level of normality for when schools do open. “If socializing in person isn’t possible then ask the kids if they would like to video call their friends and, if so, add it into the weekly schedule,” she noted. “But be aware that some children find this unusual form of ‘chatting’ and contact overwhelming and may prefer to do an activity such as a quiz on the call instead or maybe show off something they’ve made.”
With schools expected to be very different when children can finally return, what can parents do to prepare their little ones? “Be informative and available for questions,” said Shaheen. “Every school’s protocols will be different, but what we can all do is clearly explain safety measures such as washing hands. More than anything, praise them often and also praise yourself as the parent – you’re doing a great job.”