Category Archives: Family Matters

Tips for caregivers during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order

Tips for caregivers during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order

Written by: Jenn Vanetten

As a parent or caregiver during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Washington State mandate, you may be confronting new challenges at home. You may be helping your child learn their math lessons, keeping them entertained with creative activities and helping them cope with the sudden changes in routine. Luckily, educators and professionals around the U.S. have been sharing free tools, activities and information to help! 

Here are a few situations that you may relate to and some tips and resources. 

Situation 1: Helping Children Understand and Rest
Arianna’s 5th birthday is next week. You began planning her birthday party before the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. She was excited about having her friends and family invited over for a party that included a bouncy house in the front yard. These plans have now been canceled and Arianna cries every day because she won’t have her party or get to see her friends and family. 

How do you help your child understand and overcome difficult feelings during this time?
Make sure you recognize and validate any negative feelings about the situation. Let your child know that it is okay to be sad. Then, focus on the positives. For example, you get to spend more time as a family. Try to make more time for fun at home. If it’s fun for your child, it is probably going to be more fun for you!

Check out these resources for tips on talking to your child about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and help them cope with changes:
National Association of School Psychologists on helping kids cope with changes
National Public Radio on using comics with older children
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on stress and coping
Child Mind Institute on talking to kids

Situation 2: Setting a Schedule & Helping Children Learn
Jasmine and Juan both work outside the home, but now they both are working from home. They have three children, Arial (age 3), Brandon (age 5) and Adrian (age 10). Arial usually attends childcare, Brandon normally attends preschool and Adrian is in elementary school. Adrian’s classes are now online, while Brandon and Arial are not engaged in school.  

How do you and your partner balance two working schedules, monitor online classes and help all children stay engaged during the day?
Structure is key. A written daily schedule will provide your children with a sense of comfort and control and will allow you and your partner to “split shifts” (and get some work done). Some families may want to create their schedules day-by-day while others may prefer to stick to one daily routine. Which is the right way? Do what works best for you and your family! Just remember to be flexible and to collaborate with your kids during this process—even if it means scheduling an hour for “kids’ choice.”

Check out these links for more tips on creating a daily schedule with your family:
How long should learning lessons be for children in different grades
8 tips on working at home with children

Situation 3: Keeping Children Entertained and Active
As a single parent, you stay at home with your 4-year old daughter and 7-year old son. After several weeks of staying at home, they have played every game in the house at least 20 times and have become tired of their toys. The easiest solution for keeping them busy is television and electronic devices, but you feel guilty about that

How do you keep your children engaged and active?
Try to make time for a fun family activity at least once a day! It is most important to ask your children what they want to do. Encourage them to be creative with their ideas. This can be a great opportunity to help them expand their creative minds. The internet can also be a great tool for finding new activities:
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a really cool website for access to age-appropriate activities for learning about science, math, arts, literacy, character, social skills and emotions
PBS will e-mail you daily suggestions for games and activities for free
The Seattle Times has ideas for easy activities with materials that are probably already in your house
Imagine has a YouTube page with art, science, music and math activities along with guest author and artist videos. Subscribe to be alerted to new posts. 

Check out these resources if you want more information about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and how to keep you and your family healthy:
CDC resources and guidelines
Public Health recommendations 
Washington State Department of Health resources and recommendations for parents and caretakers

Building Resiliency in Children

Building Resiliency in Children

Written by: Jenn Vanetten

Children may experience obstacles and stressors that are difficult to overcome. Test failure, bullying, loss or incarceration of a friend or family member or divorcing parents may be a few of the hardships that they could face. Although such adverse events are a negative life experience, they also provide opportunities for children to build the skills – or resiliency – they will need to bounce back from hard times. 

What is Resiliency
Resiliency develops in individuals as they learn to work through challenges and cope with life stress in a healthy manner; it is the ability to recover after times of difficult adjustment, painful losses or failures. Resilience is not a trait that individuals either do or do not have. It develops through experience. 

What Does Resiliency in Children Look Like?
• Children that are more resilient may persist to improve at an art or sport, while less resilient children may give up an activity when it is not going well.
More resilient children may earn a low grade on a test and work harder to understand the content while less resilient children may give up on learning the content. 
More resilient children may handle the loss of a loved one by grieving with family members, whereas less resilient children may isolate themselves and fall into deep sadness. 

Why is Resiliency Important?
Helping a child to develop resiliency earlier in their development will help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. 

Children with greater resiliency are more likely to:
• Succeed academically 
• Develop and maintain healthy relationships with peers and family
• Identify activities that bring enjoyment
• Overcome feelings of frustration and sadness

How can Adults Foster Resiliency in Children?
• Allow room for mistakes 
When a child is struggling to complete a task, it may seem easier to do it for them. Instead, let them attempt to do it on their own and praise their efforts rather than the completion of the task. This will help them to focus on the positive elements of difficult experiences. 
• Encourage independence
When a child falls down, make sure they are okay and then encourage them to pick themselves up. Soothe them if needed. Independence enhances a child’s confidence in their ability to overcome difficult experiences.  
• Show gratitude 
Consistently expressing emotions such as love and gratitude can help children to develop positive feelings toward others and life experiences. Children should be praised more often than they are criticized. 
• Express all emotions 
It is essential for children to learn how to label and express all emotions so they are better able to communicate how they feel in difficult times. It may be helpful to explain your feelings verbally to your child as well as your process for recovering emotionally.  
• Model a healthy lifestyle
Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and a good sleep routine all help fuel the body for being resilient in difficult times. Help children to develop healthy habits! 

For more ideas on how to foster resilience in children:
The Seven Ingredients of Resilience: Information for Parents
https://bit.ly/2xnjb1F

Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

Written by: Hannah de Vries

The internet has opened a whole new world of exploration for kids. Although the internet is a great resource for finding information, playing games and connecting with family and friends, it is important to be aware of potential dangers and to keep children safe while they browse. 

On the internet, children may come across inappropriate content such as graphic or upsetting images and videos. A child may be persuaded to share personal information with strangers or provide contact details after clicking on pop-up messages. They may also be subjected to cyberbullying as a victim or acting in ways that may hurt others. Additionally, given children’s young age and limited life experience, the “online” world and the real world often blend together, blurring the lines of reality.

To combat these online challenges, parents can use a variety of strategies to help ensure child safety while using the internet:

Create a family media plan. A family media plan can help families navigate the digital world. Your plan can include details for screen-free areas and times, family expectations about children’s media experiences and programs and apps that are okay for your child to use. It’s best to create the family plan with your child and ask for their suggestions.
Use child-friendly search engines.
Kiddle is a safe, visual search engine for kids powered by Google. Other examples include KidtopiaGoGooligansKidRex
• Check that games, websites and T.V. programs are appropriate for your child. Look at the reviews on common sense media
Be a good role model. Limit your own media use and follow the rules on your family media plan. 
Use your devices’ safety features. Block in-app purchases and disable one-click payment options on your devices. Use parental controls and safe search settings on browsers, apps, etc. Make sure to check your privacy settings and location services as well. These features can typically be found under “settings” on your device. 
Use the internet with your child and make sure you are close by while your child is online. Show interest in what your child is doing by exploring the sites with them and asking them to show you how to play their online game. 
Educate your child. It is important for you to help your child identify unsuitable material. Name what to look for. For example, “Let me know if you see a site with scary pictures or bad words.” Also, help your child understand that they should not communicate with people online that they don’t know in person, especially in social virtual games. 
Build your child’s digital literacy by encouraging your child to question things they find on the internet. Help them recognize that not all content found online is true. 
Bookmark fun, safe and educational sites for your child for easy and approved access.

It is equally important for you and your child to trust each other. Maintain calm and open conversations about internet use. If your child feels trusted, they are more likely to talk to you about what they do online and the content they see. Try to talk openly rather than using surveillance apps. Remember, children will make mistakes using media and that is okay! Manage your child’s mistakes with empathy and use each mistake as a moment for teaching. 

The internet can be wonderful for kids, but similar to other environments, it comes with risks. Help your children understand the dangers and use these tools to keep them safe online.