Shared Feelings Can Ease the Burden

how to make and keep friendsBy Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea

The return to school in the fall of 2020 is so incredibly challenging for all involved. Never have we needed more compassion and understanding of other than we do right now. Administrators have been meeting and working all summer to develop the best options for families to return to school (even if you don’t agree with what they’ve done), teachers are doing their best to meet the unique demands of this time, and parents have had to make challenging decisions based on their personal views and what they feel is best for their families. Students were/are anxious about all of it and how it will be for them this year and are (hopefully) somewhat prepared for whatever is to come. This year will bring forced lessons of flexibility, resiliency and cooperation. We have no choice but to try to make the best of a bad situation.
Those who communicate the best with one another will likely manage it best. Calm, thoughtful conversations to express feelings can go a long way toward preventing meltdowns. When feelings and thoughts stay bottled up without release, that’s when explosive outbursts are mostly likely to happen. Even if kids share their feelings by shouting, as adults we can respond with compassion.
We wish it were different. We wish that all kids had to worry about was how to find homeroom or the first day of school outfit. But they are worried about how to talk to their friends, how to do well academically and socially during this strange time. They are worried about how to stay safe and not catch or spread the virus. They might feel that they are being graded unfairly due to technical difficulties. They might feel isolated and sad. All of this is seriously big stuff for a kid. It’s big stuff for us adults!
If children can release those feelings knowing that they will get understanding and compassion in return, they might just feel like they can do this very hard thing in this time. As adults we need to be able to take the weight of their worries and help them carry this shared burden.