Aug 27, 2020 | Mental Health, Leadership
September’s blog is written by one of our team members here at HDGH, Stacey Slobodnick. We are so fortunate to have Stacey and a whole team of experts here at HDGH in our Regional Children’s Centre (RCC) program to help guide us through the challenges of parenting in the time of COVID.
As a grandmother to the 3 shorties Allie, Nate and Corny, and mom to their mom Kate, I’ve thought a lot about what happens in the next couple of weeks. Our family has talked a lot about the question of what to do about school. It’s been tough for us and likely tough for you all to sort out what is the “right” decision to make. Should the kids go back? Should they do the online option? What about their mental health? What about our family health? There are so many questions and not a lot of answers. Stacey talks to us all from many years of professional experience and as a parent herself. The tips here are practical and apply no matter what decision you and your family make regarding school. They help to remind me personally of the need to talk openly with the kids about all this and not to assume they are ok because I am. Reading this I know that our family will be ok – I hope it helps you too :) My gratitude to Stacey and the outstanding team at RCC who do so much for so many of our most vulnerable citizens – our kids. I am privileged to know you all. Thank you! Jan How to support a child as they return to school- Regional Children’s Centre social worker Stacey Slobodnick shares 6 great tips on how to manage this stressful time Hi! My name is Stacey Slobodnick and I am a social worker. I’ve had extensive training over the past 26 years in behavior management, emotion regulation, play therapy, trauma and attachment, anxiety intervention, bereavement, and divorce issues. I am also a parent of two teenage boys who turned out to be my best teachers in the area of child development and understanding the challenges of parenting. With 21 years of experience in children’s mental health, I currently hold the position of Clinical Lead at HDGH Regional Children’s Center for the Outpatient teams. In this role, I have the distinct pleasure of providing clinical support to the exceptional staff at RCC who work with this community’s children, youth, and families who are involved in outpatient services. With the back to school season quickly approaching, we are aware that this September is likely imposing some new challenges beyond the ones that typically are experienced in previous years. In general, going back to school for many families can be challenging: reintroducing and enforcing routines and structure, facing social issues such as bullying or “fitting in”, meeting academic demands, test anxiety, scheduling difficulties (balancing work and children’s extracurricular activities) and securing child care arrangements. These are the challenges when COVID is NOT present. Getting back into routines and meeting classroom expectations were not easy following a 2 month summer break – what can we expect from a 6 month one?! How do we ensure our children will be safe when they are in the school setting? What are the best ways for me to support my child as he or she returns to school? The following tips can help.
5. Prepare for routines before the first day of school. Talk about your family’s expectations for mornings and after-school routines a week ahead of time. Begin to adjust bedtimes and screentimes to support those routines. Shop together for school supplies and lunch/snack items. Encourage your child to wear their masks at home for increasingly longer periods. This can help troubleshoot challenges that may surface throughout their school day. 6. Focus on the positive. This is absolutely integral. Keeping safe during a pandemic has created a lot of restrictions, change, and uncertainty. You and your child may be full of “what ifs”. Normalize their feelings. Talk about times when you were uncertain but overcame a challenging situation. Share how you cope with anxiety (unless it’s drinking wine, that won’t be helpful). When we don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s good to focus on what present opportunities are around us. Look for gratitude, help others, exercise self-care. Reflect on effort, not on outcome. Be flexible and patient about academic demands. A positive experience is more important than grades. Remember myself and colleagues at RCC are ready and here to help. Families initiate services with RCC when they have concerns about their child’s moods, behaviours, social interactions, family relationships, or if they or their child have experienced a traumatic event or are struggling with coping with any given situation. We support families by providing them with consultation or therapeutic intervention to help guide them on a pathway that promotes recovery, a healthy well-being, and a sense of hope. This looks like
All of our services can be accessed by phone or video session. We are excited to begin offering in-person sessions as well on a gradual basis. If you are interested in seeking services for your child or family, you simply call 519-257-KIDS (5437) and a receptionist will help direct you. For an immediate session or ongoing services, the receptionist will take your information to open a file. You can expect a call the same day, often within the hour, to initiate services. You will be connected with a social worker who will complete a brief assessment about your child or family’s needs and offer you choices about which of our many services may be most beneficial for your situation. We strive to collaborate with families about the goals they choose to identify, which services they feel are the best fit, and which modality (video, phone, or in-person) they feel the most comfortable with. We work with parents as our partners on this journey of helping their child or family. For more information visit www.hdgh.org/RegionalChildrensCentre
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