Guest Contributor: Sarah Imarata
Are you bored? Are you sad you can’t see your friends? Are there absolutely NO snacks in your house? Are your parents in a bad mood? Are you in a bad mood? I know the answer is probably yes to a lot of those questions, along with many other strong emotions. But guess what? You are NOT alone. Kids, Parents, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, Bus Drivers, Construction Workers, Coaches, Actors all over the world…are feeling the exact same way.
This weird time is impacting everyone around you in very similar ways. Isn’t it crazy that a virus that is bad, can create an opportunity for empathy – or the ability to understand how someone else is feeling? There is a really important word for you to learn if you don’t know it already. And that word is perspective. It is the ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes or try to see things from their point of view.
Like many of you, my 11 year old daughter has started “distance learning”. She went to a public school every day and now has to sit in front of a computer in her designated work area and do all of her assignments and learning through the computer. Her grades are important, so when there were mess-ups in the beginning, as there always is when trying something new (it’s ok, it’s how we improve!), she was upset. “Why can’t the school get this right?”, “Why isn’t my teacher answering my question right away?”, “Why do they keep having me read the same thing over and over?”. “Why…?”, “Why…?”, Why…?”. Her stress levels were so high by day 2 of distant learning, it was time to have a family meeting.
We asked her if she knew why her mom and dad had to work from home now? She understood it was to keep everyone safe and healthy. We asked her if she understood that almost everyone had to work from home now, that almost no one was allowed to go to their place of work? She understood. We asked her if her teachers were included in “almost everyone”. She said yes, of course…”duh”. We then asked, do any of your teachers have children? She said yes. We saw the realization in her eyes almost immediately. The realization of WHOA, her teachers not only have to teach their classes in a way they have never taught before, but they are also responsible for making sure their children are participating actively in distant learning. But not just that, they also have to make lunch that they normally didn’t have to make while their kids were at school. They have to answer questions their kids might have, they have to entertain them, they have to make sure they are active and get fresh air. We asked her, how do you think the teachers were feeling right now. “They must be tired” was her response. She isn’t wrong. Kids, we are tired, and we not only want, but we need you to try out this word called perspective.
Having perspective is a great way to help you get through this time. It might make you be a little less frustrated and be a little more patient and kind with those little things that are stressing you out. Talk to your parents if you are feeling upset, and I bet they can help you find a little perspective. A lot of adults are making large changes and sacrifices in their lives and you may not even know it!
Guess what? Kids aren’t the only one who need perspective. Us adults have to remember that word too. My 11 year old has been extremely angry about not being able to see her friends. She is grumpy and upset in her boredom and everyone in the house feels her mood. I sat her down to speak with her about her attitude and how out of line it was. In my mind, we are all going through this together, and even though it may stink, seeing your friends shouldn’t be the priority. And since there isn’t really anything you can do about it, you shouldn’t be so upset. I was wrong. You see, I forgot to include some very important variables in my little equation. Because we moved, my social butterfly of a daughter will be changing schools next year. Therefore, she doesn’t get to say the “goodbyes” she thought she was going to get to say. In her mind, she will never step foot in this school again and that makes her sad. Don’t get me wrong, she will stay in contact with her friends, but I think we all like that bit of closure when moving to a new chapter in our lives. So I got it. I understood her perspective and it changed the way I reacted to her when she was sad. Instead of hushing her, I try to hug her. And if she doesn’t want anything to do with me, in that moment, I give her that space. (Please note, this is not permission to disrespect your parents if they don’t see your side 😊).
So if you don’t think your family is understanding how you are feeling, try telling them. If you don’t understand how your family is feeling, ask them. It isn’t fair for parents to assume kids understand how they are feeling, just like it isn't fair for you to assume your family knows how you are feeling. We all have a responsibility to try to gain this little thing called perspective. It will help us develop that empathy – the ability to understand how someone else is feeling.
So now that we are all in agreement that perspective is important, we have made a great contribution to making the best of the situation. Don’t forget to get outside, take a breath, stay active and be kind – we are in this together, let's come out of it even more together.
Kids talking to parents https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/talk-to-parents.html
Social Distancing Tips for Parents https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/6-social-distancing-tips-for-parents