We are all going through it! This lockdown may be tougher for us and I don’t think I need to explain why. We are all living through this moment in history, all be it in different ways. On the helpline, I am hearing from teachers who are stressed, learning to adapt and are quite frankly exhausted. So when a parent is coming to them for some help at the end of a busy day, it might feel like another important but difficult task, along with questions about where to start?
Parents are having a tough time too. Children of different ages are all needing some level of supervision/ home schooling + a job, a home and maybe a relationship to manage on top. It’s a wonder anyone has time for a zoom quiz! One thing we can all do is give people some time, a listening ear and some understanding. There are not always going to be solutions, and sometimes people don’t want to hear solutions. Acknowledging feelings can go a really long way, “ I can see this is really stressful for you”, “ its ok to not be on top of it all, we are all struggling”, “I’m sorry you are having such a tough time”.
Support During Lockdown
Now, I’m not trying to add to teachers’ workloads, and while it’s great if you can offer some support to parents, there are dedicated organisations and places you can signpost parents to as well. Exercising professional boundaries is more important now than ever, so sometimes it is ok to point them somewhere else.
Young Minds offer a parents helpline, this helpline is specifically for parents who have concerns for their child’s behaviour/ mental health. They will listen, support and advise, not to mention, their helpline is free to access.
Family Lives another great helpline and support service for parents, with specific links to resources helping families cope with covid and lockdowns.
Gingerbread offer specific help for single parent families.
It may be harder to get an appointment but a lot of practices are adapting and moving services online or on the phone. If a parent is really struggling, getting in touch with their GP may be the best thing for them to be heard and get help.
Screen time is likely to be at an all time high, and who can blame parents for needing a bit of quiet time. If sitting down with their ipad for half an hour keeps kids occupied so their parent can catch up with their own work, why not.
As schools, we can help educate parents about filtering, monitoring and screen time, to help ensure the increased time young people may be spending online is safer.
Here are some links to great resources and tools;
- Internet matters have great ‘step-by-step’ guides on setting up parental controls on a range of different devices
- Information on different parent monitoring apps
- Home Wifi filtering information from UK Safer internet centre
- Common Sense Media provide information about different apps and games, so parents can make more informed choices
- Childnet produce a ‘family agreement’ resource, on the theory that if children are part of making the rules, they may be more inclined to stick to them.
- We also have some information about screen time, though in these current times, this is harder to manage
The most vital thing in being able to continue to support parents, is to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing as a professional. We are working through some difficult times, so make sure to be kind to yourself, ask for help when you need it, and utilise the Professionals Online safety helpline as much as you like!