Homeschooling can be very stressful for parents, especially during this time, with all the added external pressures. It is paramount that parents focus on their own mental well-being.
How can parents manage their anxiety and fear, and shield their adoring young children from the pressures of the world?
In episode #6 of Homeschool 101, Child EQ Coach Susanna Nicol (Founder of EQ for kidz) offers her advice on how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster of homeschooling.
- With schools closed, parents/carers now have a huge role to play at home, building a healthy, happy learning environment for their children to thrive in. How do you think parents can make the most of this opportunity?
The key word here is OPPORTUNITY! Parents can shift their mindset to view this as a special time that they will remember forever. Even if it feels challenging right now, your kids will benefit in the long run from this precious extra time spent at home with their loved ones.
My biggest suggestion is to take this opportunity to create new and fun memories as a family: learn a new skill together, invent new games to play, get messy, build a fort inside, spend time outdoors in nature, have a “yes” day, or simply follow your child’s lead!n (I have a free resource of quarantine activityideas I can send – if you’d like it, send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org !)
- What steps can parents take when they’re feeling under pressure at home, yet can’t show it to their children?
Under pressure, overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, needing space? First of all, realize that all of your emotions are normal and valid. Take a few long, deep breaths to regulate your nervous system. Then, you can put one hand on your heart and tell yourself “I am a good parent. I am just having a tough moment.” or “I am feeling _____ right now.
It’s okay to feel this way. I am safe.” and watch as the feeling changes.
There is no need to hide your feelings from your children. In fact, by “modelling” aloud the coping tools that you use to calm yourself in the moment, you are helping your children learn how to self-regulate as well. You might find them taking a few deep breaths and using positive self-talk, too!
- When a child has an emotional meltdown, are there any ‘calming strategies’ you could recommend for parents?
In moments of high emotions, a child’s thinking brain is taken over by their emotional brain. Keeping this fact in mind, remind yourself to “connect over correct”. In other words, seek to connect with your child’s underlying emotions, rather than correct their behaviour.
Get on their level, show that you care how they feel, giving them words for how they might be feeling: “Wow, you must be feeling really angry to throw your toy like that.” Get curious, asking questions like “I wonder what happened before? I’m curious what’s going on for you? What do you need to feel better? How can I help?” Often, they just need to be heard, feel safe, and be soothed to regulate and return to calm. Once you have fully listened and validated their emotions, only then can you problem-solve together. This process is called “Emotion Coaching”.
If you would like to learn more about the 5 steps to Emotion Coaching, feel free to reach out!
- A regular gratitude practice
- Journaling about your thoughts and feelings
- 5-minute daily meditations
- Daily feeling check-ins
Are there any daily activities/routines you can recommend for parents to enjoy with their children at home, which promote mental well-being?
We know time spent in nature or time spent exercising benefits our physical health, but it’s just as important to do things that benefit our mental health. Below are some examples. (eg. use a visual tool, like a mood meter, an emotional thermometer, or simple colours)(eg. every time you catch a negative thought, say 3 things you’re grateful for)
- Write down and hang up positive affirmations (eg. I am loved and loving. I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.)
- Write a letter or make a present to send to someone you miss.
- A regular gratitude practice
K. Susanna Nicol
Child EQ Coach
Founder, EQ for kidz
The brain of a pre-school child is rapidly acquiring new knowledge every second, but they still can’t understand or control their feelings. They still feel overwhelmed by strong emotions like anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety.
In episode #7 of Homeschool 101, we discussed with K. Daisy (RIE Parenting and Educator) about how she incorporates the RIE method to raise her son. K Daisy shares her experience and explains how she approaches the emotions of an early years child.
- What is RIE Parenting?
Pronounced “rye”, RIE Parenting derives from Magda Gerber’s Resources for Infant Educarers philosophy. It is based on respect, trust and acceptance of the child so that they can reach their full potential.
This approach believes that parents/caretakers must have respect for the child and trust that they are natural inventors, explorers, and self learners as the main goal of RIE is to create an authentic child who feels secure, autonomous, competent and connected to the world around them. By respecting, believing and recognising that children are highly capable, encourage them to explore, and engage in their space creatively, and confidently, learning independently on their own and along with others.
As parents/caretakers, we can encourage this through:
— Respectful communication both verbally and nonverbally.
— Safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing environment for independent, uninterrupted play and self-directed exploration at their own pace and interest.
— Openly, accepting and acknowledging expression of emotions.
— Setting clear and consistent boundaries without distracting, shaming, punishing or time outs.
— Modeling and recognizing that they are learning from us every day. We have to be it to teach it.
- How do you help your child when they express strong emotions?
First and foremost, we have to understand that releasing or expressing emotions is a healthy development. When our child has tantrums and meltdowns it means that they are developmentally on track.
So ideally we want to welcome the emotions. Strong emotions are considered communication; therefore, all emotions are acceptable, and acknowledged, However, unsafe behavior is not acceptable and not allowed.
It is imperative to lay the groundwork for emotional awareness and emotional intelligence in our children. These long term coping skills of expressing their needs and desires in a healthy and effective way will pay off over time.
My method is to help my child identify and understand his feelings through acceptance, validation and acknowledgement. Whether that’s through a feelings poster, a colour chart or a sensory activity, or even during our nightly bedtime conversations about the day.
For example, I will ask how he felt in a certain situation that day, or how he should handle these feelings for next time. We work on finding and using healthy coping mechanisms to problem solve and work through it together.
I find that these open lines of communication between my son and I strengthens our bond and relationship even more. And through my modeling of my emotional ownership and accountability, I am showing him that his regulation, our co-regulation, as well as emotional growth takes time, practice, patience and empathy for one another.
When tantrums occur, how do you handle your child’s emotional meltdown?
I approach it by holding space, acting as a safe container to allow for all emotions, and expressions in a nonjudgmental way, with sincere understanding and acceptance. When a tantrum or meltdown occurs, I welcome it by reframing my mindset, stepping up my presence to fully support my child safely through it.
I breathe, I slow down, I don’t try to fix it, I don’t rush through it. I know and understand that is not a reflection of my parenting. It is natural, it is healthy, it is part of the constructive process of self-regulation.
I let the feelings be, yet helping to identify the emotions and sportscasting what I see. I believe that crying is the cure; therefore, I co-regulate with him and support him emotionally the best I can. It is not the time to teach, or to reason with him, it is the time to model compassion, appreciate him authentically and love him unconditionally.
This quote by Janet Lansbury sums it up perfectly and beautifully:
“One of the most ironically counterintuitive twists of parenting is this: the more we welcome our children’s displeasure, the happier everyone in our household will be, there is no greater gift to our children and ourselves than complete acceptance of their negative feelings.”
- How do you set up/manage time to balance INDEPENDENT PLAY, MOMMY TIME, LEARNING TIME, ETC.
Honestly, it’s all about having a rhythm or routine, which makes children feel secure and safe because true happiness comes when children feel that the adults are calming and confidently leading and guiding them.
Since RIE focuses deeply on strengthening relationships, building trust, and communicating unconditional love, the method is put in practice through consistency, awareness of the child and defined boundaries.
For instance, to foster independent play, seeking connection first helps the child feel seen, which naturally invites cooperation instead of push-back. While the idea of self care or Mommy Time is normalized and rooted in our clear, consistent boundaries day to day. Children feel valued and truly loved, making it easier to accept our limits because boundaries are the highest form of love.
K. Daisy Soongswang
RIE Parenting and Educator
Homeschool 101 gives you perspectives from parents and educators, from various walks of life, who are willing to share their experiences about homeschooling. We hope that these voices can give you comfort, community and perhaps some valuable homeschooling insights. There is no right or wrong way.
If you wish to contribute to this community of like-minded parents, please reach out to us – we would love to hear your voice.