Surfing the Waves
Kate Park, a Behavioral Therapist at Tucker Health in Singapore, talks about how to care for yourself while riding out emotional ups and downs.
Over the past few months, many of us have become intimately familiar with a rolling tide of emotions. Families with school-age children face a whole new set of emotional waves beyond the usual developmental ups and downs.
Each family could be dealing with a myriad of situations—briefly returning to school and potentially seeing friends under very different conditions. Online graduations. Lack of clarity about colleges and universities opening. Cancelled summer plans, internships, and gap year activities. Uncertainty about the ability to say goodbye to friends who may be moving. Families who are still separated. It's overwhelming just to think about it all, let alone live it.
Caring for ourselves and each other has never been more important. Encourage younger children to express themselves through play, books and creative activities. Help them name their feelings and express these through play or art.
Sometimes kids (and adults) just need a break. Create areas where people can self-soothe. Give everyone their own space with books, arts and crafts, music—a place to go when things get overwhelming and difficult. Let your family know, it’s fine just to chill out for a while.
Everyone is missing friends. Encourage tweens to stay connected online and take healthy breaks outside.
Teenagers likely miss their friends and forays into independence. Providing support with activities like rearranging their rooms or painting their own walls provides a temporary sense of control over their environment.
Parents juggling multiple roles and questioning future plans are certainly not immune from the emotional tides.
You can be angry, sad, frustrated, and fed up. Go slowly, gently and kindly with yourselves. Model this attitude towards self care for the family.
For many, the waves of emotion can be surfed with patience and self-compassion. When you’re rearranging summer plans, focus on your family’s areas of interest. This is not the time to let your inner tiger parent shine.
To liven things up and break up the energy-sapping-groundhog-day-monotony consider quiz nights, themed Zoom parties with friends, board game evenings, or even a cultural night once a week where family members take it in turns to pick a country and prepare a meal. You could dress-up in costume, add a quiz, and a movie or TV show that fits the theme.
And, keep in mind that if you feel stuck, or see a family member struggling, you can consider professional help. You don’t have to solve everything on your own.
For more tips on emotional health self-care click here.