By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED, Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant
The mental health of your children is not just important, it is vital, for them to stay focused during the new normal online isolated learning mode. They need their brains to operate at optimum levels to listen, understand, remember and perform their tasks.
Neuroscience says that emotions such as stress, anxiety, fear, anger, irritability and melancholy block our frontal cortex from rational thinking and processing.
One of the things we can consider giving priority to that would greatly help counteract the effects of these strong emotions is planning something fun daily. We parents should do this too. Afterall, we too are prone to struggling with these emotions at this time of uncertainty and restriction.
One of the first things I ask my daughters now is what game are you playing today? What are you planning to do to have fun today, and this weekend? Just the idea that we should make fun a priority I can see lights up their faces! It’s a nice break from me just giving annoying reminders to attend to online classes with full attention and to uttering lists of chores to be done.
They say a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest. We MUST at times insist that the children move around and get physical. We are permitted to go outdoors so we must make the effort to go for walks, rides, even scenic drives.
Let’s clean the cobwebs off the scooters, frisbees, cricket bats, footballs, badminton rackets, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, picnic mats etc and insist they come with us to parks and savannahs, in our family groups, abiding to restrictions.
We are so very blessed that we are not facing winter weather conditions that will force many around the world to stay indoors. Let’s take advantage of our favourable climate and breathe in fresh air while getting physical.
On many occasions, I have overruled the protests and insisted my children attend events, go places with me and do things they are not accustomed to doing, just to expose them to something new and they were so thankful afterwards for the new experience.
They are not capable of agreeing to partake in certain activities if they have never experienced it before. If it is a totally unknown, unfamiliar experience how can they say yes to it? We must insist.
This is a matter of mental health and our children’s education. We cannot sit back doing our own chores and work while our children suffer in this quite subtle, silent, spirit-stifling mode.
Melancholy, sadness, and depression can sneak up on them very gradually without us or them recognising it.
Creativity, innovativeness, mental alertness, problem-solving abilities all require our brains to fire in a certain frequency and it is up to us to manage that frequency. Movement, interaction with others and mood especially, are essential for our wellbeing and the ability to endure and achieve.
In addition to doing activities outdoors, exploring the corners of our country, let’s also dig out the Taboo, Scrabble, Monopoly, Trini Doh Say Dat, cards and the other favourites, and learn to model to our kids how to be a good sport, an important life skill.
We can also demonstrate that we can have fun too. Let’s allow the child in us to show up and be silly. Let’s play the old tunes, dance, and sing karaoke!
Optimal brain and body function are needed now for optimal work, learning and performance.
Sophie Barcant is a coach, trainer and facilitator with Growth Opportunities. They offer to companies and individuals, various programmes and courses based on the latest in neuroscience. To build resilience in your family or staff, better manage mental health and keep growing to thrive not just survive contact Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org.