It is hard to avoid the constant bombardment of information about the one topic we are all presented with almost every minute of the day. COVID-19 has certainly changed our lives in ways that we could not have imagined only eight months ago.  Sudden unexpected changes, compounded by ever-changing levels of restrictions, can have a devastating impact on our wellbeing if left unchecked. Uncertainty and the corresponding lack of clarity surrounding daily life events can bring about a sense of panic and anxiety.

Our young children and teenagers are not immune to such feelings. In fact, researchers commonly cite that teenagers experience “storm and stress” during their adolescence, experiencing emotions even more intensely than adults given that they have not yet learned to regulate themselves. This can affect their wellbeing unless we help guide them to manage the way they respond to what is happening around us. In our daily interaction with students at school, we can see some of the signs of what psychologists describe as Anxiety. This is where the underpinning principles of our School philosophy can be used as a useful tool to guide and teach our children the best ways to emotionally manage what they are experiencing.

At All Saints Grammar, we encourage a growth mindset as a guiding disposition to confront the challenges with which we are faced. This means that we encourage an optimistic and hopeful attitude as this is more likely to help us regulate our feelings of anxiety. Psychologists refer to this as ‘normalising the feeling’ (Damour, 2020). Anxiety, psychologists argue, is only a problem when there isn’t a reason to feel anxious. In our current circumstances, it is absolutely okay to feel the symptoms of Anxiety. Understanding that it is normal to experience such feelings can help create a purposeful response. Anxiety is a response to a threat. As parents and educators, we need to guide our children to respond by following the authoritative advice of the experts. Such advice is designed to help us deal with such threat and the anxious feelings that arise. The positive disposition brought about by having a growth mindset leads us to accept what we feel as normal. It leads us to find valid and accurate information to understand such feelings, and it helps us formulate a strategy to manage our response.

Our School Philosophy highlights the importance of Cultural, Social, Spiritual Connection as a pathway to enhance Emotional Balance. Understanding anxiety as a threat, necessitates a response where the tools to manage such threat are available. This is where the unique nature of our School and our cultural background need to be used as a strength to drive us through difficult times. Connecting to our family, our faith, and our close friends, in the knowledge that they can be our safety network. Developing trust in one another and learning to value what we can offer each other can only strengthen our ability to deal with highly stressful situations. This is what developing self-efficacy and self-regulation, the core of emotional balance, actually means.

As parents and educators, we have a responsibility to model responsible responses to the threat posed by the current pandemic. Our children and teenage sons and daughters are more likely to get through these difficult times if we the adults can encourage a mature and positive disposition that uses the resources available to us to overcome the current challenges.

If you would like more information on how to help your children at home, I encourage you to visit the links below, to find useful information and hints:

Elfa Lillis
Head of School