Mornings, Meltdowns, and Mindfulness: Parenting through stressful struggles
posted by: Mile High Mamas
This week, I joined my 5-year-old daughter for the social-emotional learning component of her virtual school day. She and my son are enrolled in our local public elementary school, which is fully virtual through at least January. The school has set aside 10 to 20 minutes a day for focused social-emotional learning, including practicing mindfulness skills, learning how to identify and express feelings, and spending time connecting to each other. This kind of skill-building feels especially important to do in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when children may be even more emotionally vulnerable than they were last year at this time.
The teacher posted the instructions to the Zoom room and I was ready: “We’re going to breathe!” My daughter’s response? “I HATE THIS! I’m not doing this. It’s boring.”
I brought my enthusiasm: “I’m breathing! [Exaggerated breath in, big breath out, like blowing out a candle]” She shouted: “I HATE THIS!”
I was no longer breathing. I was frustrated, embarrassed, afraid, anxious, and angry. (I can be pretty good at identifying my feelings, it turns out!) How did I express those feelings? I’ll leave it to your imagination.
I was also not connecting with my daughter. As much as I wanted her to pay attention to the lesson, I wasn’t paying attention myself, to her. She was showing me, in every way possible, that she was uncomfortable and unhappy.
I know I’m not alone, and I know she’s not alone. This school year is hard, no matter if it’s in-person, hybrid, or fully remote. It’s not what any of us expected or are truly equipped for.
Parents: What can w:e do to try to make things better? I promise this won’t be a list of additional to-do’s, but a way of approaching this incredibly challenging situation with, perhaps, a different perspective.
-Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH, Psychology Today