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How to Support Your Child’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health

We know you and your child may be experiencing stress, confusion, fear or anxiety during this time. In addition to the work of our school counselors who are working to meet your child’s individual needs, below are some steps you can take to support your child.

  • Talk to Your Child about the Current Situation. Have age-appropriate conversations with your child and be sure all adults in the household are using the same language to describe what is happening. Be sure you understand the correct facts from medical and government resources. Share only developmentally appropriate facts with your child.. Be calming to avoid cultivating anxiety or distress in your child.
  • Limit Exposure. Be mindful of adult conversations or media coverage about what is happening. Limit your child’s exposure to these as they could cause an increase in anxiety or distress in your child.
  • Encourage Expressive Activities. Encourage imaginative and expressive activities that can help your child share how he or she is feeling (for example, play for younger children and music activities, art activities and journaling for older children). This will allow your child to process his or her emotions in safe and productive ways.
  • Create a Structured Environment. Provide structure and routine for your child. Have a daily schedule with general activities posted in the home including how to access Google Classroom and school supports. Visual schedules are beneficial for young children. Children do well and feel safer when they know what to expect next.
  • Set Expectations. Set expectations for your child to complete a set amount of academic work daily. This helps with structure but also will help avoid the pressures of feeling behind when he or she returns to school.
  • Create Special Time. Set aside at least 10 minutes a day to focus on your child. More time is better. Actively listen to what he or she says and stay positive. If your child is younger, play with him or her during this time. Child-focused play has many benefits to child-adult relationships.
  • Spend Quality Time Together. Have dinner together. Put away all technology. Take turns sharing something that you felt happy about today. Your child can help with preparation and clean up.
  • Stay Active. Encourage your child to play, walk or hike outdoors and get outside with your child as well. If the weather does not allow for outdoor time, try yoga, having a dance party or watching online videos that encourage movement indoors.
  • Focus on the Positive. Point out the “helpers” in the world and the good things they are doing. Stay simple and limit detail about anything frightening, but emphasize the good work being done.
  • Model Responses to Difficult Situations. The adult should care for him or herself and model this for the child. Children will watch how adults in their homes deal with stress and replicate this themselves.

Step Forward’s Rules for Resilience

Step Forward is a valued community partner for Caddo Parish Public Schools. In working to meet the needs of students, Step Forward focuses not only on the academic needs of students but ways to also support the social and emotional aspects of the child.

In going through this pandemic, Step Forward has put together “Rules for Resilience” to support students and families.

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Rule 1: Get Plenty of Sleep Each Day

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Build your resilience by getting plenty of sleep each day. “a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Sleep-and-mental-health

Rule 2: Get Moving and Get OutsideImage may contain: 1 person, standing, child, outdoor, text and nature

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Get outside and get moving to build your resilience. “Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may all be eased by some time in nature — especially when that’s combined with exercise.” https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7.

Image may contain: textRule 3: Do Things You Enjoy

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Rule #3: Do the things you enjoy to “decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength. Leisure activities offer a distraction from problems, a sense of competence and many other benefits.” https://www.mhanational.org/create-joy-and-satisfaction.

Image may contain: text and outdoor Rule 4: Meditate

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Rule # 4: Meditate to reduce stress, control anxiety, and promote emotional health. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section1.

Image may contain: one or more people, text and closeupRule 5: Give Thanks

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Rule # 5: Give thanks. When faced with adversity, focusing on what we have, rather than what we lack, can “significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.” https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/.

Rule 6: ContributeImage may contain: 1 person, text

Resilience defeats toxic stress. Rule # 6: Contribute. “Our current situation — the simultaneous need to reduce physical distance and to increase social, or relational, connection and not see a further rise in loneliness — presents a challenge for us all. Ignoring the need for connection at this time is not an option.” https://www.smartbrief.com/original/2020/03/why-relational-connection-so-important-during-coronavirus-pandemic

Behavioral Health Supports

Your child may experience increased stress during this time. Increased anxiety, inattention and a decrease in focus are some examples of typical stress responses. If you observe these responses, it is important to monitor them closely to be sure they do not interfere with your child’s daily functioning.

Below are some important notes about behavioral health.

  • Your Child Currently Receives Behavioral Health Services. If your child is in therapy, contact his or her provider about options for teletherapy or ideas of things to do at home to support his or her treatment goals. If your are interested in mental health agencies approved by Caddo Parish Public Schools, Mental Health Service Providers – 2019-2020 Telehealth.
  • Your Child Takes Medication for Behavioral Health. If your child is prescribed any medication for behavioral health, consult with his or her physician and follow medical recommendations.
  • Your Child Shows Safety Concerns. If your child is demonstrating risky behaviors (self-harming behavior, threats to self or others, drug or alcohol use), create a plan to provide consistent supervision. If your child has a mental health provider, follow-up with the provider immediately. If there is an immediate safety concern, contact your local police, hospital, 911 or crisis response team.

United Way’s 211 Service Supports Additional Family Needs

Every day individuals throughout our community are facing issues in which they are need of services beyond their own abilities. United Way of Northwest Louisiana works closely with Caddo Schools to provide our families with resources as quickly and efficiently as possible. These resources are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week by dialing three simple numbers: 2-1-1.

United Way ‘s 211 service is an easy-to-remember phone number linking people in need to relevant information. When you call 211, you will speak with a trained Information and Referral Specialist who will help you access the exact service you need.

By maintaining an accurate database of public and community-based resources, United Way 211 connects you to basic services and even at times of disaster. You can also use the online Service Directory to search for resources near you.

The 211 service provides resources to support the following:

  • Food, shelter and clothing
  • Abuse/neglect prevention and protection
  • Rent, utility and financial assistance
  • Crisis intervention services (domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, etc.)
  • Job training and career counseling resources
  • Transportation assistance
  • Educational programs
  • Financial literacy classes and money management training
  • Home health care
  • Legal assistance
  • Congregate meals for the elderly
  • Homemaker services
  • Quality childcare
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Support groups
  • Family resource centers
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • And much more…