Raise your hand if you’re struggling with the school year.

It’s normal for parents to feel anxious about changes in routine. And this year is full of changes. Distance-learning, in particular, is a definite change to the school year routine. We’re entering uncharted territory when it comes to learning techniques.

Our team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentist is, as always, an active part of the Salem community. We know that it takes a village, and we’re here to help.

That’s why we’ve put together this resource for getting through this time together. Read on to learn more about how we, as a community, can help each other and our children during this upcoming school year.

Embrace your child’s mood swings.

Some children, especially those on the younger side, are likely to struggle with all of these adjustments. They may have a harder time understanding the reasoning behind social distancing and virtual learning than we do.

It’s normal for kids to express their stress and anxiety through what may be perceived as “negative” behavior. This includes temper tantrums, disobedience, and mood swings.

But remember that you are their safe space, which means that you may receive the brunt of this behavior. When these mood swings occur, remind yourself that your children are releasing or expressing emotions the only way they know how. Rather than getting upset or feeling discouraged, try to talk to your children about their emotions and teach them how to cope with stress in a healthy way.

Helping Children Cope with Stress

In response to these unprecedented times, the CDC has compiled information regarding COVID-19 and anxiety in children. Consider practicing some of their suggested coping strategies in your own home.

Do your best to answer your children’s questions accurately and honestly while limiting their exposure to alarmist news and social media. Create a new routine that brings balance and normalcy back to their daily lives. Remind them that expressing their emotions is a positive thing and set good examples for them when it comes to health, joy, and interpersonal connection.

Set reasonable expectations for school and work.

Because we’re all making adjustments to our daily lives, it’s important to adjust our expectations as well. Shifting your priorities for both your children and the adults in your household can relieve some of the burden you are carrying. Make sure that you communicate your expectations to your family and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Expectations for Your Kids

Learning is always important, but the traditional markers of learning—like good grades and perfect attendance—may not be the best priority right now. Instead, prioritize comfort, mental health, and routine.

With time, virtual learning may become easier and your child may achieve those good grades and perfect attendance. In the beginning, however, allow space for them to navigate their own feelings and abilities and give them the support they need without the pressure.

Expectations for Yourself

Think about how many hats you, as a parent, are currently wearing. You may be working from home. You are also providing meals for yourself and your family, helping your child with their schoolwork, and maintaining your household—all while everyone is at home.

Don’t strive for perfection. It’s more than okay to drop the ball now and then. Work on knowing which balls are made of glass, and which are plastic. Plus, it’s time to learn how to rely on others in ways you possibly didn’t in the past.

Also, partners should be partners. If you find yourself taking more of the mental load, take a look at this and share it with your partner. Have a meaningful conversation that includes a division of the mental load and associated tasks.

Do you have relatives in the area who can help with childcare every once in a while? Do you have neighbors with children who can become part of your social distancing pod and share some of those at-home learning responsibilities? Don’t be afraid to reach out to your community and ask for help!

Make time for yourself.

It may be difficult right now to find moments of alone time. If you need to, create them, even if it’s only ten minutes here and there while your child catches up on Netflix’s The Magic School Bus Rides Again. The more that you can stay in touch with your own emotions, the easier it will be for you to help your child through this time.

Managing Inner Stress

Coping strategies aren’t just for your children. Make sure that you’re addressing your own inner stress as well.

First and foremost, acknowledge what you can’t control. When you feel the weight of those things pressing down on you, repeat a grounding mantra like, “I am enough,” while taking deep breaths. Consider practicing meditation, yoga, or regular journaling to help you release tension and anxiety.

Take preventative measures wherever possible.

It can feel like just about everything in our normal lives has been uprooted at this point. However, there are still plenty of services that are available that you and your family can utilize right now!

Plan to take preventive measures that will benefit your family. For example, routine doctors appointments and dental checkups are a great way to manage preventable issues from creeping up. Good oral and overall health is a great way to keep our immune systems running at full capacity!

Visit your pediatric dentist in Salem, Oregon.

As we enter the new school year in Salem, Oregon, it’s important to work with each other and our community. Together, we will help our children and each other get through these uncertain times.

Everyone at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is working full-steam-ahead to ensure that every Salem kiddo has a healthy, bright smile! We are taking every precaution to keep our practice functional and safe so that you can make a stress-free appointment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can’t wait to see you again!