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Parent Support is Here for You

Calendar-IconMarch 12, 2021

Without question, parenting is one of the most important and challenging roles in life and one that does not get the full attention and recognition it deserves. At Child Focus, we take the role of parenting very seriously, today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and the next generation of new parents. Parents of every type (birthparents, foster parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, step parents, etc.) all have one thing in common and that is, they ALL can benefit from learning parenting tips and strategies to develop thriving kids into successful adults.

No doubt, 2020 and the COVID pandemic brought many new parenting hurdles to overcome as everyday life as we knew it abruptly changed. Compared to past generations, many parents and families today have found themselves feeling increasingly isolated raising children without the support and guidance they need. Child Focus Parent Educators provide on demand parent education and support to answer parenting questions you may have with regard to child development, and social and emotional health. Parent Educators are available at our Clermont, Brown and Hamilton county locations. 

Our Parent Educators have some great tips on promoting social emotional learning.  This year, many of our school-age children and adolescents shifted to virtual learning while at the same time, widespread health department and CDC guidelines kept them indoors much of the time. With this dramatic shift in daily living, many new family challenges have surfaced including increased fears and anxiety about the future, heightened sibling rivalry and family conflict along with a reduction in typical social emotional development experiences. 

Social-emotional growth and development occurs through social interactions with others. It is the fundamental way in which we as humans respond and interact in the social environment. It is responsible for our human capacity to understand ourselves, our own behaviors, feelings and emotions and be able to explain, label and manage them. 

Parents can be successful facilitators of social-emotional growth and development while their children and adolescents remain in the transition from COVID social restrictions. Below are some tried and true methods to bolster social-emotional development and awareness. 

1.        Be mindful of your own stress level and reduce stress by getting plenty of rest, good nutrition and regular exercise. Kids do pick up on the emotional well-being of their caregivers and tend to mirror or emulate their behavior. Long walks, a nature hike or a bike ride are excellent ways to reconnect kids and engage in gentle conversations about their feelings and the world around them.

2.       Stick to a schedule and regular family routines. It is important to have a plan for incorporating family priorities. Create a schedule that includes healthy sit-down family style meals where there is plenty of opportunity for social-emotional engagement. Build in daily exercise routine. With the weather improving, plan an after lunch or dinner outdoor activity.

3.       Teach social-emotional skills, not just academics!  An easy way to do this and one that children and adolescents enjoy during family time is to reflect on a favorite memory from the past. Be sure to add plenty of imagery and words that describe feeling and emotion as you walk down memory lane. Use of a family or baby photo album is another great platform to work on social-emotional learning.

4.       Avoid conflict before it begins. Being proactive to create a family environment that limits opportunities for conflict is the best way to begin. Adhere to a schedule with well-planned structure and daily routines. Conflicts tend to rise when routines aren’t followed, kids get bored and the mischief begins. Teach kids and adolescents this phrase: “If you can name it, you can tame it”. Teaching kids to recognize and label their emotions and feelings is important. Once they begin to recognize their emotions, they can be taught to deal with them in healthy ways. Also, appreciate the power of physical distance. Everyone needs healthy time away from each other just as much as they need healthy time together. 

5.       Use reflective listen and language skills. Practice balanced conversation and reflective listening and language skills. Be sure to use plenty social-emotional feeling words and talk about the feelings experienced. Take turns sharing information about each other and asking appropriate questions to learn more about the other person. A fun family way to develop social conversation skills is to play a game where the goal is to have as long of a back-and-forth conversation as possible. Stack tokens or blocks every time someone says something that keeps the conversation going, and see how tall a tower you can make. If your young child has trouble moving the conversation along, pause the game and help them think about a question they could ask or a comment they could make that would help the tower grow taller.

               Additional Family Social-Emotional Games & Skill-Building Ideas

Apples to Apples is a great game in which players are given a prompt and have to pick from a set of cards in their hand which one best matches the prompt. This game actually requires a lot of perspective-taking skills. Your child will have to think about who is judging each round and what they know about that person in order to predict how they will behave.

Guess Who is another game that encourages good social skills. Your child will practice thinking objectively about characters, using deductive reasoning to come up with helpful questions, taking turns, and tolerating frustration if they lose.

Charades or Celebrity are games you can play anywhere, any time that also build social skills. In order to be effective at these games, you must be able to communicate skillfully while observing the rules (e.g., in charades, you have to communicate only using your body, not your words). Your child needs to think about what they know about their partner that might help (for example, if the celebrity is January Jones, it really helps to know that dad’s birthday is in January!), and they need to be flexible if they pick a strategy that just isn’t working.

Read books together about different social situations. Ask your child questions about the characters, what they felt during different events in the story, how their actions affected other characters, etc.

Virtual play dates. With free video chat options from FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, kids can get together with one or more peers. Encourage play by having children create a scavenger hunt. (e.g., “Find something in your house you’ve had for a long time and tell the other person the story of how you got it”). Other ideas include playing “I Spy”, putting on talent shows, and even writing stories together (each person takes turn writing one sentence).

Call Child Focus at 752-1555, reach out on social media or email info@child-focus.org for more information on Parent Education.