Is Back to School, Back to Work or Back to Normal keeping you awake at night?

We all know that the kids being back at school means more bugs, especially as autumn turns to winter. Usually it’s considered a good thing – gives their immune system a workout! But this year is of course different, and I know that some people are feeling increased anxiety around this.

A week in and the colds and sore throats are starting up (for the kids and the adults) and of course that brings even more anxiety, is it just a cold or is it “the” virus?

We can’t predict where the virus will pop up, and so we carry on and just take the precautions that we can. 

But what can you do if your worry about returning to any kind of business as usual is keeping you up at night? 

One mother I spoke to even felt guilty for letting her child back into the ‘real world’, in case she became ill. She was also worried that she didn’t have all the answers and wouldn’t be able to reassure her child.

We spoke about this at length, and I completely understood where she was coming from so I asked her to write down the pros and cons of her child being at school, and this helped her to start seeing the positives too.

There is a form of coaching that is called Emotion Coaching and is often used when working with children and young adults.

However, it also works really well with adult relationships too to improve emotional intelligence, so if you don’t have children (I don’t) you may also be able to use these steps in your own life.

At times like this emotion coaching is a really useful way to support your child to be able to handle and tolerate all the uncertainty. Post-pandemic, this is an important life skill to help them to face the challenges that they will face later in life.

Research shows that children who learn about feelings and emotions feel calmer and learn to self-regulate, get sick less often and build stronger relationships with other people.

In a nutshell the five steps of emotion coaching are:

Be aware

You need to observe how your child expresses different feelings and emotions – set an example by talking about how you feel and this will help children to build their own vocabulary around what they feel.

Connect

Emotional times can be used as a way to connect with your child. Allow them to have feelings without dismissing or disapproving of them. Help them to understand that all feelings are ok, but not all behaviour is ok.

Listen and tune in

Your child will feel more secure when they are allowed to express their feelings. Get curious and really listen to what they are saying. You might find that their words or behaviour touches a nerve about how you are feeling. Has it made you feel angry, scared, helpless or frustrated? Or maybe something else?

Name the feelings

Naming emotions will help to calm your child. Ask, don’t tell them what they are feeling. If they aren’t sure, perhaps offer them a variety of suggestions that they might like to think about.

Set limits and problem solve, together

Whilst allowing all of your child’s feelings to be heard, set clear behavioural limits. When everything is calmer then look at making any corrections or changes. Involve your child in the problem solving and finding the solutions, particularly as they get older. Another life skill that will be invaluable.

How about you?

Is it better for your kids to be with their teachers again?  How about the time you gain back in your day? How does it feel for you to go back to work?

There is definitely a mental health boost associated with getting out of the house and back into society; whether that’s sending the kids to school, or taking yourself into the office once again.

It would be a shame to lose that mental health boost to anxiety.

Above all, children take their lead from you – the most important people in their lives, so your response to a situation is really important.

It’s important to manage your own emotions and remain calm but that’s often easier said than done and you can be left with a whole range of stuff that you don’t know how to deal with.

Dealing with our feelings, perhaps around getting back to some kind of normality and needing the opportunity to vent sometimes, is the reason that I am launching Kitchen Table Confidential on 1st October.

It’s a virtual opportunity to mix with people who may be experiencing exactly what you are going through and have worked out how to make it work for them. Or perhaps people who haven’t had that experience but can offer a fresh perspective on how to handle it.

Could be about career, childcare, lifestyle or any of the million other things that we worry about and would perhaps either like some help with or just want to get off our chest.

I will of course be in the group too with both my Agony Aunt and Coach hat on and I’m hoping that alongside the venting and the challenges we are experiencing, we will have lots of laughs too. There will also be a chance to ask me confidential questions – all will be revealed soon.

I’m hoping that I get enough people interested to make this group happen so click here if it’s something that you might also be interested in. More about it and the chance to join coming soon.

As the old saying goes: a problem shared is a problem halved.

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