Educational psychologist service
Telephone hotline for parents Our telephone hotline runs every Wednesday from 1-4pm and is available to parents/carers should they have a psychological issue or question about their child they feel it would be helpful to discuss with an EP. During the phone call, EPs will focus on problem solving, providing information and signposting if appropriate. This is not a formal means of referring an individual child to an EP and these consultations about children are anonymous. The following information will be recorded for administrative purposes: school name, age and gender of the child and a summary of key issues causing concern. No prior arrangement is necessary – simply call into your area telephone number for your area between 1 – 4pm each Wednesday as follows: If you call and the hotline is busy, business support will take a message for an EP to call you back within 48 hours of your call.
NE: 01372 833 588
SE: 01737 737 777
NW: 01483 518 130
SW: 01483 517 179
Practical parenting tips you can use to make virtual school a bit better
The challenges of virtual learning are enough to make even the calmest children (and parents) lose their minds. It’s time for virtual class, but your child can’t find their login information, or spends an hour on an assignment only to have it disappear into cyberspace. (Seriously?) Tears and yelling may be the first reaction, but there are better ways to cope — and even succeed — with virtual learning.
Clinical psychologist Kate Eshleman, has some advice that can help when virtual learning launches your child’s anxiety levels through the roof.
1. Find your calm zoneDo everything you can to stay calm when a crisis happens. It’s natural for parents to get upset when their child is upset. But you can’t help your child when you’re not calm, and it can make the situation worse. Staying calm doesn’t mean glossing over the issue and gritting your teeth in a fake smile. Acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings in a calm voice.
You can say:
- I know how upsetting this is. We’re going to figure it out.
- It looks like you’re feeling frustrated/angry/sad. Let’s see what I can do to help you.
It’s easy to become frustrated with virtual learning, the situation is not your child’s fault, so try not to take your frustration out on them. They didn’t choose this situation and can’t help if they’re struggling with it. This is hard to do in the moment, so think ahead. What are some ways you can react when virtual learning is not going well?
Parents can model good coping skills when they become frustrated, and children will learn from this. Instead of shouting, take a few deep breaths. Step out of the room for a minute. It’s not easy, but it’s a valuable skill that helps you and your children.
2. Tackle the problem
After you’ve calmly validated their feelings, address whatever caused the outburst. Talk about the problem and work through it together, Discuss steps you or your child can take. This may include talking to the teacher about the vanishing assignment or searching for their login information. Maybe they can ask friends, teachers or school contacts for help.
3. Plan ahead
Brainstorm ways to prevent future mishaps with virtual learning. Involve your child in the process. Planning can help them feel calmer and in control. Consider these prevention strategies:
- Save a backup file of work or take a picture before sending them.
- Create a daily schedule/timetable with login information etc.
- Set alarms for zoom start times, breaks or other important times.
- Keep a list of each teacher’s name and contact info handy.
Being proactive can help you avoid (some of) the annoyances that push all the anxiety buttons in your household
4. Understand that webcams can cause anxiety
Does your child avoid virtual meetings or get worried/upset when it’s time for zoom class calls? Some children get anxious or self-conscious when they see themselves on a video call. This can interfere with their learning as well as their mental health. We hear about this problem a lot. First, try to find out what makes them anxious. Is it their room in the background? Set up the call in another room. Are they self-conscious about their appearance? Help them get up earlier, so they have plenty of time to get dressed, do their hair and get ready. In some cases, you can ask the teacher if your child can attend class without the camera on. If this can’t happen, talk with your child about how to deal with webcam-phobia. We all think everyone is looking at us, but this isn’t the case. Tell them you know it feels uncomfortable, but others aren’t staring at them. Their classmates are focused on their own appearance, too.
5. Avoid toxic positivity
Managing anxiety does not mean having a fake, Susie Sunshine attitude. Toxic positivity is when we pretend everything is great even when it’s not. It doesn’t allow us space to express frustration, anger or sadness. We don’t want to teach our kids that we don’t have thoughts or feelings. We need to identify and label our feelings and express them in healthy ways. In other words, you don’t have to pretend that a pandemic is easy-peasy. That’s a relief.
Anxiety and depression signs in children
The coronavirus has been a nightmarish crash course in dealing with stress. But sometimes, stress is something more. These signs could mean your child needs medical care for depression, anxiety or another health concern:
- Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Not eating enough or eating too much.
- Getting upset when a parent leaves (separation anxiety).
- Loss of interest in activities or friends.
- Ongoing health problems like stomach aches, nausea or headaches.
- Episodes of dizziness, trouble breathing, shakiness or sweating.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Support for Adults
Surrey County Council have published some guidance to support your mental health and wellbeing. Having good mental health helps us to relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. Evidence shows there are 5 key elements which contribute to mental wellbeing:
Five Ways to Wellbeing
Follow these links for more guidance:
- Connect with people around you
- Be active by building activity into your everyday routine
- Keep learning to gain self confidence and learn new skills
- Give - helping others can boost wellbeing
- Take notice by focussing on your thoughts and feelings