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It’s now 2021, and as much as I would love to say things are better than last year, they’re pretty much the same. My kids are still homeschooling, we’re social distancing, and hanging out with friends and family is pretty much out of the question. As a mom, I hate that my kids’ childhood is being taken away from them at this important time. But I’m also worried they aren’t learning as much as they could while they stay at home. There’s a disconnect between their teachers, friends, and studies that I worry about. I don’t want them to feel helpless—isolated from classmates and even their schoolwork. I want to empower my kids to do the best they can!
Since parents are the leading influence on their kids’ decision to drink or not, conversations about alcohol must happen early and often. Start when your child is in elementary school, and continue through middle school, high school, college, and beyond.
It’s Hard Out there For a Kid
This year, I partnered with Responsibility.org again because I understand the importance of empowering parents to have a lifetime of conversations with their kids, including discussions about alcohol responsibility. And over the last year of distance learning, it’s been especially hard for children who are in the middle of learning and growing when all of those connections they had come to a sudden stop.
Jessica Lahey, an author on children’s development and education, notes kids aren’t feeling engaged or connected to teachers or what they are learning due to the pandemic. Social isolation and depression are all too real for kids right now. And that feeling of helplessness is a risk factor for academic failure and substance abuse.
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It Puts Them at Risk
Lahey says the role of learned helplessness that many of our kids are experiencing right now equates to the feeling that no matter what they do, it won’t have an impact or change anything. So why bother engaging? If they feel disconnected from school, classmates, even something as simple as a homework assignment, they can become apathetic. And it can seriously affect their emotional and mental health.
And, of course, as a mom of four, I don’t want any child to feel that way. I know I want my kids to not only feel engaged, empowered, and excited when they’re in class but to know that their work and contributions are appreciated and essential!
When conversations around alcohol go up, underage drinking rates go down. Find conversation starters for every age group on Responsibility.org.
Get Your Kids Engaged In Other Ways
We need to help our kids break away from the habits that contribute to learned helplessness. But since we’re all stuck distance learning, for the time being, it’s important to look for other ways to get them feeling engaged. If they’re feeling helpless and ineffective in class, then it’s our job to make them feel important at home.
Give them autonomy in the home. Find what works best for your child and let them run with it. If they want to play games in their rooms or even redecorate—go for it! Right now, their rooms are really the only place they can control. To show how much they help at home, give them some age-appropriate chores around the house. It’ll keep them positively engaged and show them that they are an essential member of the family.
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Let Your Kids Be Themselves
Yes, as moms, it’s hard to give your kids the autonomy they need to become self-reliant. We always want to be there every step of the way. Instead, try to keep yourself busy with something else. Get some work done, finish a few chores, or learn to knit. Find something to take your focus off of your kids and let them affect change on their own. Even if it’s something as simple as doing a load of laundry or picking out their own outfit.
Since 2003, conversations between parents and kids have increased 73 percent. During that same period, underage drinking has decreased by 50 percent.
Keep the Line of Communication Open
Of course, giving our kids some autonomy at home doesn’t mean we don’t have family talks when we need it. It’s important to Bobby and me that we check in with the kids often to make sure they’re doing okay. When they struggle with school, it’s not only detrimental to their education but their mental and emotional wellbeing too.
Lahey recommended involving your kids in your mistakes at work to help them see how you rebound from places and refocus on the importance of the process, not just the outcome. It’s a great way to show them that everyone struggles with their work or studies, but there are ways to overcome that helpless feeling and make a difference!