Teachers, Parents, Children: Standing Back from The Chaos- Providing Stability in An Unstable World
Updated: May 26
We would like to reach out to parents who are feeling overwhelmed, uncertain and downright scared (which if we’re honest is most of us!). Our world has dramatically changed in the space of a few weeks. However instead of just reacting we can consciously decide how we respond. We owe it to our children to stand back from the chaos and provide stability in an unstable world.
We don’t have all the answers but we believe that with the right support, attitude and awareness we can help our children negotiate the challenges posed by COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead:
Educational: Even the best online courses cannot compensate for the interaction of the classroom. A number of countries have cancelled lessons and exams indefinitely and studying may seem futile. Parents may wonder if their children are receiving the right academic support and never catch up!
In the UK we have just heard that GCSE and A Level Exams have been cancelled this summer. Even though students will receive grades based on ‘mock’ exams and coursework, our reliance on standardized testing as almost the sole criteria for achievement may be changing forever.
However, in times of crisis, and possibly even in the future, as we see our structures begin to change, academic qualifications may become less relevant. Big corporations are beginning to recognize the value of our natural qualifications by making use of the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment and have begun to see they have been missing out on valuable talent by looking only at academic measurements.
In the coming weeks and months, most parents will be spending a great deal of time in close proximity to their children and THIS CAN BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR STRENGTHS SPOTTING, to look at ourselves and our children, and learn how we naturally and uniquely think, feel and behave, which is based on our unique set of Strengths. As our natural talent patterns and Strengths come to the fore we can begin to look towards the future and ask ourselves “what does the utter uniqueness of each child mean in the current school system that may try to mould all children into specific copy-paste editions of each other”?
Gallup research is clear, when we know and use our strengths daily, we are three times as likely to have a high quality of life. In these challenging, uncertain times, wouldn’t that be great for our teachers, our schools and our students?
Some Suggestions To Help Our Children Through These Challenging Times:
1. Remain Calm and Reassuring:
Children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions. Stand back from the chaos. If we are constantly being fed on the media drip feed we will only react, not respond to the situation. Instead keep informed on a need to know basis, limit news bulletins and avoid sensationalism and ‘worst case scenarios’.
What practices can you fall back on or introduce to help you be a beacon of calm?
Regular meditation, prayer, journaling, exercise, keeping up hobbies, a walk in nature (if possible), may all provide help you to provide stability in an unstable world.
Being able to share with a supportive network can also provide necessary perspective and ideas.
Do not complain! (or at least not out loud!). The mind listens to the mouth, producing negative cortisol does nothing to improve the situation or move the needle forward.
2. Make yourself available:
Children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions. Tell them you love them and give them plenty of affection.
3. Monitor television viewing and social media:
· Limit television viewing or access to information on the Internet and through social media. Try to avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting when your children are present.
· Speak to your child about how many stories about COVID-19 on the Internet may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
· Engage your child in games or other interesting activities instead.
4. Maintain a normal routine as far as possible:
· Keep to a regular schedule, as this can be reassuring and promotes physical health.
· Encourage your children to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
5. Review and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection:
Encourage your child to practice good hygiene, diet and exercise—simple steps to prevent spread of illness. As always what we do and the attitude we show is much more powerful than our words.
Medical: A concern that someone close will catch the virus. Those who feel particularly vulnerable are those with elderly relatives. Long distances and the threat of lockdown raises anxiety levels further. Caring for elderly parents may or not be an option, which can lead to a sense of helplessness or guilt.
Concern about food shortages and essential services: The media focuses on worst case scenarios.
Financial: A loved one will lose their livelihood because of the lack of business in the short-term, or the wider economic downturn. Mortgage and other loan payments may be daunting.
Family Events: Reunions, holiday or wedding will not take place.
Isolation: the pressures for staff or students working from home alone for a prolonged period of time. Children have much energy and ‘lockdown’ can cause and aggravate psychological challenges.
Cabin Fever: the pressure of some families all being at home trying to work around each other or a prolonged period of time. Relationships are under strain, outside support is limited if at all.
To join our free online Strengths Discussion "Understanding your Child's Talents & Strengths" you will find the link here. We plan to run this every Thursday afternoon as time permits.
‘Most kids will remember how their family home felt during the Coronavirus panic more than anything specific about the virus. Our kids are watching us and wondering about how to respond to stress and uncertainty’. (Headteacher, UK)
Rob Fenlon (BTEC, BTh, PGCE, (London), Cert IV (Training & Assessment, Australia), Strengths Strategy® Certified Coach (USA), Certified Professional Life Coach (UK)) understands the joys and the challenges of inspiring students to reach their potential, having over 25 years global teaching and education management experience in UK, Thailand, Burma,
United Arab Emirates and Australia. Throughout his career he has looked for opportunities to integrate classroom learning with a holistic outlook to include family life, sports, hobbies and work experience. His team created and delivered the National Award-Winning Education-Industry Liaison Course between Batchelor Institute, NT and the Mining Industry by developing life skills and well-being components. He has the ability to see the wider picture, enthusing diverse groups to work interdependently on common goals. Rob works globally utilising online technology and offers in-person workshops in Education and Business.
Sam McDonald has been married for twenty-five years and has four children. Their home is in Camps Bay in South Africa. She is a Futurist and Strengths Strategy Coach with a dream to change the world one person at a time through Strengths & 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement©.
She works with motivated clients using the Strengthsfinder® assessment as a power tool for:
Strength Based Interviewing & Recruitment
Assisting motivated individuals to fall in love with their careers and find the work they were born to do.
Working with high achievers to discover their value and purpose
Working with Start-ups to gain momentum, motivation & self-awareness of the Entrepreneur
Assisting Students to gain a greater self-awareness, expediting their career path, building confidence and self-esteem.
Working with individuals to re-engage in their work environments & leveraging their strengths
Working with marriage relationships to help you love again and understand the toxicity, reduce negative experiences, create understanding and, in turn, assist with long-term strategies for lasting transformation
Finding your true Purpose, Passion and Value in Life
Falling in love with your life and work again
She teaches the 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement© & Vulnerability' to focus on living 'Interdependence' as the key to healthier environments - choosing this as 'rules of engagement' over 'Dependence', 'Co-Dependence' & 'Independence'.
Sam McDonald is the Chief Visionary Officer for WITH - Global Change Institute (www.with.org.za) with a dream for each individual to know and understand their uniqueness through their Strengths, Interdependence and Purpose and use these in service of a better humanity.
She is a Normative Visionary, Systems Thinker, Disruptor, Change Agent, Activist - With a PG-Dip in Futures Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, influencing thinking in order to create futures led enquiry & change towards a future we all want to be part of - linking strategic leadership and management with futures thinking using Interdependent Rules of Engagement© and the StrengthsFinder© Assessment as tools of choice to help people understand each other's unique world views which are coloured by their Strengths Language.
She moved to South Africa in 1983 from Nottingham in the UK and works between both countries and globally utilising online technology and offers in-person workshops in Education and Business..