Your school practices lockdowns in case of emergencies. But do your kids understand why? Here’s how to mentally prepare your kids for a school lockdown!
by Bash Sarmiento | Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works. Follow him @bashsarmiento.
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Unfortunately, the days of peaceful schooling are over. That’s because mass school shootings have forced parents to fear the worst on a regular basis, and this changes our parental role to a degree that generations before us have not had to experience. School Lockdowns are the new normal for children and parents. But do kids really understand why they need to practice this? And are they mentally prepared, as best as possible, for the realities of such an emergency?
A child’s school is a second home to them. It is a place where they learn, grow, and meet new people who become their non-biological family. The school environment creates a shelter that brings fun and knowledge to your kids using essential subjects and engaging activities, making them feel excited to wake up early, wear their uniforms, and go to school every day.
In light of this, school lockdowns can take a huge toll on your kids’ mental health. Not going to school means no social interactions and school games for children. That is why it is better to mentally prepare them for this scenario, especially now that school shootings are more frequent than ever before.
But if you don’t know where to start, don’t fret! This article will guide you on how to prepare your kids and support their mental health during a school lockdown.
1. Be Honest About the Reasons Why A School Has Lockdowns
When it comes to mentally preparing your kids and helping them during school lockdown, telling them why it needs to be happening is very important.
Explain to them why the school needs to have a lockdown, but remember to keep it age-appropriate. Employ the honesty mindset, while keeping in mind that certain information may trigger your kids’ anxiety and scare them, causing them not to like the idea of going to school ever again.
You can start by giving them some basic information about the event. From there, let them ask you questions. Focus on the positive stories—make the thought of ‘school lockdowns’ positive for your little one. Explain to them that the decision of the faculty to put the school on lockdown is for the welfare of everyone.
If you feel your child is old enough to understand more than the positive stories, tell them more about the truth behind school lockdowns. Explain that preparing for the worst, doesn’t mean losing hope. You can use the Benjamin Franklin quote to guide them, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” If you share this with your children, they will begin to understand the importance of preparing the mind and body for this event.
2. Teach Them How To Cope With Stress in a Simple Way
Sometimes, preparations aren’t enough. When a particular situation starts to happen, even if you are mentally prepared for it, you’ll still feel the same feelings of anxiety and stress. In light of this, teaching your kids how to deal with those emotions is important, especially when the school lockdown happens at unexpected times.
Here are some calming strategies that you can teach your child to cope with stress and anxiety:
- Take some deep breaths
- Count the numbers from 1 to 100
- Drink lots of water
- Channel their emotions through arts (drawing, painting, or sketching)
- Listen to their favorite music
- Read books
- Hug their favorite toy
Aside from all these, the last calming strategy you can teach your child when they’re feeling stressed is to just cry. Tell them that it’s okay to feel those emotions and let them all out with tears. This will make them feel safe in showing their emotions and opening up to you.
3. Establish a Routine
When a school lockdown happens, your children will need to implement ways to keep their minds off the event. Not every school lockdown is a true emergency. So to keep their anxieties and fears at bay, you can practice at home. Get them on a routine so eventually it becomes habit. Have them practice their new coping skills as well. Combine these teachings into a daily routine and your child will build a habit.
You can use visual timetables and charts to help your child comprehend what happens in each stage of the lockdown and to acknowledge their diligence in following the routine. By knowing when an activity is going to start or stop, your child will develop positive reactions to a lockdown. Do the activities together as a family so that your child feels safe.
Practicing with them will help them build their confidence to endure a real event. Additionally, if the practices prove to be useful, you can reward them for their participation with things like these cute and comfortable baby kits or whatever toys they’re into. This could encourage them to do continue wanting to practice.
4. Have A Counselor On Standby
Lockdowns can be scary and overwhelming, especially since what happened in Uvalde, Texas. The older children probably have a strong grasp on the reasoning behind the lockdowns. The younger children may not, and could potentially see lockdowns as a fun game. It’s important to express to all ages how serious a lockdown is.
But in doing so, you may need to reveal the true dangers behind the policy. This could leave children feeling stressed, anxious, sad, and they may not fully understand. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, it would do more harm than good if we didn’t explain to our children about lockdowns. But that doesn’t mean we have to leave them without support or comfort.
Have a children’s counselor or family counselor on stand-by to help your child cope with their new information and possible fears. While they may not show signs of distress, they could very well be experiencing it on the inside.
The Bottom Line
School lockdowns can cause stress and anxiety to your kids. That’s why being equipped with strategies to help support their mental health during those times is important. With this article, you won’t only be helping your little one cope, but you’ll also get closer to them. So, support your children through education and help your kids mentally prepare for a school lockdown bearable with this guide.