Distance learning has evoked anxiety not only in students, but in their parents and caregivers. Many parents are expressing feelings of failing their student when seeing grades drop, as well as feeling responsible for their child’s increased anxiety around school. Because of this, parents are experiencing more worry and stress during an already taxing time.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers
If you are one of these parents, please know that you are not alone. Here are some quick tips to try the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, worried, or stressed.
- Label and evaluate current worries: A good starting point to manage your anxiety is to be specific about what you are worried about. Next, identify the specifics of the potential outcomes that are causing you stress. Now that you have a list of your worries and their possibilities, ask yourself, “How much control do I have over this?” This will help put each item into perspective and allow you to notice which worries may be productive (i.e. the things you have more control over) versus worries that are unproductive (i.e. the things you have less control over). Seeing what you can control can be extremely helpful in managing anxiety and help you create an action plan.
- Embrace your feelings and find healthy outlets: When you’re feeling worried or anxious, recognize those feelings and give them space to be felt and acknowledged. Once you know your own triggers, you can better address those feelings when they arise. Find a healthy outlet to help you work through your feelings – physical activity, going outdoors, meditating, drawing or journaling are well-known methods.
- Readjust expectations: This past year may have been incrementally more challenging for your student or your family than any other year. It’s not fair to hold ourselves to the same standard as is typically expected. Give yourself and your student some grace – readjust your expectations to match the situation that we are all in. It may be helpful for you and your student to discuss what success looks like for this year, specifically. By identifying new measures of success, you can work together to achieve a new goal – whether it’s a letter grade, a test score, or more consistent schedule – that can decrease the anxiety of both you and your student.
Take this 2016 Arizona State University study for example: the study showed that when parents emphasized attaining certain grades as top importance, students reported increased depression and anxiety. When parents emphasized the importance of kindness and social relatedness, students reflected lower reports of anxiety and depression.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but is a good place to start. If you or your child are continue to experience increased worry or stress, don’t hesitate to reach out to the school or a mental health professional to ask for help.
This blog article was contributed by Matthew Talmadge, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at Nexus-Gerard Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.