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Mental Health Matters: April 17


Hello Ellis Families,

I hope each of you continues to be well. I have been happy to hear from many of you. I’m learning from your struggles and also love hearing about the moments your kids do something new, act kindly, or simply are really cute. I miss them!

One thing I keep hearing is the struggle to replicate a normal school day. Replicating the classroom is no easy feat. While structure is very important for a child (and for adults), it is okay to be flexible with how you fill that structure. Having children help with household tasks, for example, can help your child build life skills. Having free play encourages a child to use their imagination and stimulates creativity, which can lead to developing increased problem-solving skills. Every activity can provide an opportunity for social-emotional learning with some guidance.

As I’ve said before, you are doing your best and that is awesome. Some days may look better than others true, but your best is enough, and you are in good company with other parents feeling the same struggle.

You’re warmly welcome to join our Caregiver Zoom Chat scheduled for Thursday evening, April 23rd from 8:15-8:45pm. This is a non judgmental space where we can share with one another and ideally help each other. If you can’t join on the 23rd, please never hesitate to reach out to me directly for support at japps@ellismemorial.org.

Thank you and be well, Jenn

Breathing Techniques

Supporting Your Child in Using Breathing as a Coping Skill:

Tip One: Teach them skills before they need them. It is hard for any of us to learn something new when we are sad or mad. Pick a new breathing technique and practice it when they are calm, and try practicing just one for now. As your child gets more used to it, you can add a new one.

Tip Two: Use it with them. It can be hard to access a coping skill on your own, so get on their level and model a breathing technique. Co-regulating can be soothing and also builds your bond.

Tip Three: It is okay if it doesn’t work right away. It will likely take up to ten times of using the breathing technique to work. That is okay! It takes our bodies and minds a while to regulate. Self Care in the Time of COVID-19 Elmo’s dad checks in to offer some words of encouragement for parents.

Sesame Street has some wonderful resources around social emotional development on their website and recently announced a partnership with Headspace to help kids learn mindfulness. You can learn more here.

Hot Tip Is your child (or maybe you) missing a grandparent, auntie, godparent or friend? Mail them a hug! Social distancing doesn’t have to mean emotionally distancing, and could lead to a wonderful surprise in your mail- a hug from your loved one letting you know they miss you dearly.

Hug-By-Mail Directions: 1. Spread out a long sheet of paper. 2. Trace the child’s head, arms, and upper torso onto the paper. 3. You can either cut it out now or decorate first and then cut. 4. Print or write out the message below to accompany the hug. 5. Fold it all up, put in an envelope and mail!

Below is a message you’re welcome to adapt:

“I miss you when you’re far away. I’d love to see you every day. But since I can’t come over to play, I’m mailing you a hug today. So although it might be quite a sight, wrap my arms around you tight. Repeat daily to keep your smile bright, until we get to reunite!”

Mental Health and Parent Support

Psychology Today: Many therapists are taking on new clients virtually during this time . Many are also offering sliding scales on copays as well as short term treatment models. If your feelings have become overwhelming and having a person to speak with outside your personal network is helpful, visit Psychology Today to find a provider. Additionally, if you need support in finding a counselor please feel free to contact me at japps@ellismemorial.org .

Parental Stress Line: 800-632-8188 • Parental stress line counselors are there to listen to your concerns and problem-solve with you. 24/7, free and confidential.

Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST Team): 800-981-4357 • A mental health emergency hotline for crisis evaluation and treatment if your child has become a danger to themselves or others in the home

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