What can we find for you?
Happy New Year! Can you believe January 2022 is almost over?
As the first month of 2022 is almost over, Kids’ Turn San Diego is reflecting on our path since March 2020. What a journey it has been!
We lived the motto of “building and flying at the same time” for almost a year and then we realized, wait, we got this! The location of our program is less important than the skills we are teaching. It matters less if we are sitting knee to knee in a circle of 25-30 parents in a Family Workshop Class or with 15 children sitting around a table than if we are providing a safe virtual space for children to share their feelings and for their parents to gain insight into their own words, actions, and behaviors.
We reflect. . . since March 2020, we watched parents lose contact with a child because the other parent believed that their child’s other parent was putting their child in harm’s way, exposing them to COVID, not requiring masks, or simply choosing to use the pandemic as a tool to destroy parent-child relationships. This was painful to hear about and saddens us, especially when we hear 8 year old children telling us that one of their parents is “toxic”. This is not the word of an 8 year old child!
Then we listened to children tell us how much they wish their parents would stop fighting, that they want them to stop arguing and yelling at each other, and to stop yelling at them – their children. This, by the way, is not new. Children have been wishing this and telling us this for 25 years! (We celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2021!)
As we reflect . . . we wonder, do parents continue to argue with their co-parent, even though they have been divorced for years? Do parents still send 10 page texts or emails? Then we think about you . . . are you a parent who says bad words or negative comments about your children’s other parent? Are you forcing (from your child’s perspective) your children to have relationships with your new partner? Are you a parent who is role modeling ineffective communication and unhealthy relationships to your children?
We hope you will reflect! If you answered yes to any of the above questions, from the words of children who have attended our programs, PLEASE STOP!
Your children want their parents to get along. They want you both at their sporting events, dance shows, and school activities. They don’t expect you to sit next to each other, but they want you there, and they deserve to have two parents show up for them! And by the way, if there is a bonus parent in the family (a step parent), your children want you to accept their bonus parent. Stop being jealous or mad that this person gets to raise your children. Stop saying mean things and setting the expectation for your children to dislike their bonus parent. YOU CANNOT CONTROL OTHERS, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, WORDS AND BEHAVIORS. You have choices about what you think, feel, say and do!
Consider, for a moment, what if for 2022, you made the choice to accept that you and your co-parent got divorced because you couldn’t make your marriage work, and with divorce you need to transition to a different type of relationship – a relationship that is about your children. You are both important to your children. Children are half one parent and half the other. There is no denying this fact! So why would you choose to deny your child access to their other parent, or why would you say mean things about the person that helped you create your children?
What if you decided to take a step back and acknowledge your part in your failed marriage and divorce? What if you recognized that the anger continues between you and your co-parent because you are making a (maybe unconscious) choice for it to continue? What if you decided enough is enough?
What if you decided that for 2022, you were going to accept your part, acknowledge it, and free yourself up from any blame or guilt you feel? What if you decided to leave every negative comment behind? What if you decided that being kind and caring in 2022 to everyone is your goal? What if you chose to praise your children for what they are doing well and focus less on the areas in which they struggle?
What if you decided to be your best self, and if you’re not sure who that is, what if you made discovering that your journey for 2022?
Imagine what life may be like. . .
Less arguing and more peace. Less anger and more love and happiness. Less energy spent on trying to “win” and more energy spent on making every moment with your children count.
Thank you for reflecting with us! We hope your 2022 journey will be full of fun, love, and laughter. We hope you will choose peace for yourself and your children. They really want that and we know you do too, even if it is deep down inside of your heart. Let go of anger and walk the path of resilience and joy! Be a happy person and parent who role models effective communication and healthy relationships. Your children deserve this version of you, and we hope your entire family will find happiness as they walk the path of kindness, care, and peace. We’re here if you need us! Enjoy the journey!
With school well underway, many children are telling us that they love being back at school with friends and in the classroom, while others tell us they have mixed feelings. From parents, we continue to hear concerns about COVID-19, wearing masks or not, and most recently, about whether to vaccinate or not. Know that you are not alone, and these parental dynamics are not just happening in separated and divorced families. These conversations are occurring within all families, and they are not easy conversations.
Schools have different requirements and protocols in place to protect kids, which can be confusing or difficult to follow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps updating their recommendations, and every store we go into has a different kind of sign about their requirements.
What do we do?
Focus on what we can control. Referencing the top tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other experts on how to keep children safe from COVID, Kids’ Turn San Diego is sharing ways you can control what you can control.
1. Have conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine and immunizing your children.
The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to children over age 12 and may soon be available to kids as young as 5 years old. The experts are saying that children will be much better protected from COVID if they are fully vaccinated.
Not sure what to do? Consult your child’s doctor. If you and your co-parent do not agree on whether to vaccinate your children, or have too much conflict to even start a conversation, control what you can. Focus on behaviors to prevent illness and to promote the health and safety of your children when they are in your home. Wash your hands to the song Happy Birthday twice, practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask when inside.
2. Help your children pick out fun masks that they will be happy to wear at school.
Masks are one of the best ways we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 when we are inside. Even if your child’s school does not require masks to be worn, encourage your children to wear their mask when inside. Schools can’t prevent your child from wearing a mask. Be sure also to regularly wash the masks to keep them clean!
This is another area that, as a parent, we don’t have much control. Do your best to educate your children so that they have enough information. Every parent’s goal, at one time or another, is for their children to make good decisions. Purchasing fun masks that your children will want to wear is a good place to start.
3. Keep your child home if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if they test positive for COVID-19.
If your child tests positive for COVID-19, follow your school’s guidance for isolation, even if your child is not showing any symptoms. To avoid new challenges, we recommend parents follow their child’s school testing and quarantine guidance after being in close contact with someone with COVID-19. You may not have control over your child being exposed, but you do have the ability to prevent exposure to others. Remember, your child has two parents, so don’t operate in isolation; instead, focus on communication, and let the other parent know about the exposure and the plan.
Worried about your child missing schoolwork? Teachers learned to teach remotely last year. They have back up plans, so use them. Communicate with teachers and request virtual learning options. Help your child stay on top of school work so that they don’t fall behind.
4. Stay home and avoid large gatherings yourself until your child is no longer quarantining or isolating.
Here’s the reality: if your child was exposed to COVID-19, you have probably been exposed as well. You and your child may not have symptoms and may want to continue life as normal, or you may be feeling ill. Be your child’s role model — teach them that when we are exposed to a quick-spreading virus or when we don’t feel good, we stay home to get better and avoid spreading the illness to others.
It is okay and even smart to want to get yourself and your child tested for COVID. Knowing whether or not you have the virus is one way to have a sense of control over yourself and your family and have the facts you need to make an action plan.
Help protect the health of others in your life by avoiding large gatherings and unnecessary indoor activities until your child is in the clear. You may have lots of feelings about this, but consider this: Make this temporary quarantine time a special time to spend with your child. Paint a picture or a bedroom, decorate for the holidays, look at old photos, create meaningful holiday gifts for others using things in your home. It doesn’t matter what the activity — Kids’ Turn San Diego is suggesting that you make the best of a challenging situation and have fun while doing it!
Cooler weather, Halloween, midterm exams and school projects, holidays, family gatherings, time together. We have so much to look forward to. We just need to take these extra steps to keep each other healthy and safe for a little while longer.
As a final note, remember that while you can’t control others or the situation, you can control yourself.
It is okay to be the only one in the room wearing a mask and not giving hugs because you are social distancing. Others may not wear a mask and may want to hug everyone with whom they come into contact. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. Be you and do you. It is okay for you to be the only one in the room wearing a mask or social distancing. You are making a smart and caring choice to protect yourself and others!
We have just passed the one year mark of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember having so many questions at this time last year, thinking that we would be out of work for a couple of months, max, and worried about buying toilet paper, getting a thermometer that actually worked properly and finding disinfecting wipes and anti-bacterial hand gel. It was a scary time!
And here we are — one year later. No matter who or where you are, there is one thing we all share: We have all been impacted by COVID in one way or another!
As life begins to shift again, our questions are real and important. Our thoughts and feelings are valid, even if others think or feel differently. If you’re anxious, worried or even scared sometimes, you are NORMAL!
In this past year, disinfecting wipes and hand gel became my new best friends. If you need hand gel, I am the one to ask. This is my new reality and surprisingly, the reality of many others. But not everyone is this way. Some people socialize with others without masks or social distancing or say “no thank you” when you offer them a squirt of hand gel. This thinking is very different than mine, and I don’t understand it.
One thing I do understand is that I have no control over anyone else!
At Kids’ Turn San Diego, 506 parents and their 323 children have attended our Family Workshops since the pandemic began. We have heard a lot of questions. Here are the top seven.
I hope so! Studies are showing that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you against COVID-19 and from becoming seriously sick if you do get it. I am vaccinated, and although I was hesitant at first and continue to wear masks and to use disinfecting wipes and hand gel regularly, I feel safer and relieved that I am vaccinated. The other people in my home are waiting to get appointments. We will all feel a little safer and relieved that we took another step to protect ourselves and others. When I was undecided, I talked with my doctor and asked for their recommendation. Talk with your doctor if you have questions.
These are difficult decisions. Some parents have reached out to the courts and were disappointed when their case was not heard, while others took the path of claiming that the other parent is intentionally putting the children at risk. If parents cannot agree, you may want to consider a conversation with your child’s doctor. If your child is sick and has to go to the doctor, you would treat the illness with the medicine provided so that your child would get better. So, if you’re unsure, go with the doctor’s recommendation. The best thing for your children is for their parents to decide together. This shows your children that you are a united front when it comes to them, and that you have their best interest at the forefront of all decisions.
Remember: YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR CHILD’S OTHER HOUSE. You will never know the reason why, so challenge yourself to let go of your worry. Instead, focus on what you can control. For example, when your children return to your home, take their temperatures, have them change their clothes, have them take a shower or bath, have them wash their hands, or wear a mask around them. (I know this sounds silly, but YOU have the power to protect yourself by wearing a mask). Get creative with your children and create a return plan together. It will be easier to implement if your children help create the plan.
Only time will tell, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the people who know way more about COVID-19 than any of us are saying yes. So, if you are comfortable, send your children to school. If you’re not comfortable, remote learning has been going on for a year and you and your children are probably pretty good at it by now. If it’s working and makes you all feel better, make arrangements with the school.
Again, only time will tell what the summer holds for all of us. Talk with your children. If they want to return to these activities, talk about how they will take care of themselves. Because there are so many unknowns, I encourage you to pay deposits only and hold off on paying full fees until you are sure that the opportunity will be happening.
The CDC and our local health department has been making decisions based on the number of COVID cases and positive test rates. The numbers are decreasing as more people are getting vaccinated. Talk with your place of employment. Maybe you can work remotely on some days and at the office on others. When it comes to the question of who will stay with your children while you’re at work, consider your co-parent. Are they still working remotely? Collaborating on a temporary plan related to children being at home and parents needing to work is a great idea. Use “I statements” to work on the details. Think of it as a business transaction so that there are no emotions tied to the conversation. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve heard a parent say no to hanging out with their children when they are home and available, so this is a great idea (and it doesn’t cost you any money)!
We’re hearing a lot about children as young as seven having panic attacks since they returned to school. The best thing you can do is to reassure them and ask them what they need to feel safe and secure. Maybe they need to take a picture of you with them. Maybe their favorite stuffed animal needs to travel in their backpack. Maybe they need to hear from their parents that your expectations of them are to have fun and to engage with their friends — and if they can learn, too, that would be great! Children are worried about not meeting the teacher’s expectations, so set clear parent expectations to help them relax and feel better. If your child continues to feel anxious, request a conversation with the teacher. They have been living through the pandemic, too, and may need a reminder of what your child needs to be successful in the classroom. Also, structure and calendars work great to help reduce anxiety in children. Create a family calendar that shows which days your child is at each parent’s home, at-school days and remote learning days, weekends, events and activities. Add birthdays too. Knowing how to use a calendar is a life skill, so this is a great opportunity to teach it to your child. Get creative with stickers and colors and make it fun!
We’re here for you at Kids’ Turn San Diego. We wish you the best of luck as we all navigate these uncharted waters!
This year, we are celebrating a BIG milestone! Kids’ Turn San Diego has been offering Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families for 25 years. We have listened to thousands of children share their experiences, and, for the most part, their needs have remained stable over time.
“I want to see both my parents.”
“I want my parents to stop fighting/arguing/yelling at each other.”
“I want my parents to pay attention to me.”
Prior to COVID-19, there were several common threads in the stories shared by the children attending our program. Children witnessed frequent fighting between their parents and were often brought into the fights. Children wanted to spend time with their parents, and they liked it when their parents got down on the floor and played with them. Some of the children felt like messengers passing information between their parents. A few of the children felt caught in the middle between their parents, an experience that was very stressful for them. Many of the children wanted their family to get along because it stressed them out.
One year ago, COVID-19 began to change everything. Most divorced parents came together and collaborated for the safety of their children, and children successfully transitioned from one home to their other home, week after week.
Sadly, not all children were so fortunate. Some children found themselves stuck between parents with different beliefs, different strategies for ensuring health and safety, and, saddest of all, some children had no contact with their other parent as one of their parents used COVID-19, probably unconsciously, as a tool to keep their kids away from their other parent.
Sadly, some children are still not seeing one of their parents to this day.
In every Workshop this past year, we have heard these stories over and over.
Regardless of your relationship with your co-parent or your history together, you must remember that your children are not just yours. They are half of you and half of their other parent. They deserve to have healthy relationships with both of their parents — and you have a big role to play in this. Their brains are constantly developing, and they are learning from what they see and hear every day. They will copy the behavior and words that are being modeled.
Your children deserve the best of you and we want you to be the best parent and co-parent possible. If you are engaging in blaming, name-calling, manipulating or controlling, we encourage you to take a look at yourself and the behaviors you are choosing. We invite you to think about your choices. Are they in your best interest, or are you hurt, angry or upset and need extra support to work through these feelings? Are they in the best interest of your children, or do your children deserve to have relationships with both their parents, regardless of how you may feel about their other parent? These are hard questions, but feelings are normal and okay when they are addressed in healthy ways and without involving your children and their relationship with their other parent. There are many resources available to support you, especially at Kids’ Turn San Diego!
If you are the parent who has not been able to see your children, here are some suggestions for making the most of your parent-child relationship, even if you are apart for now:
- Know that someday your child will realize what has occurred and they will come back and want a relationship. This may take 10 years, but with almost all children, as their brain develops, they begin to see through the name-calling and bad-mouthing so be ready for this day.
- Keep a journal for your child. Pick out a special notebook and write a note to your child whenever you see something that reminds you of them. For example, maybe you see a beautiful sunset and it reminds you of a day you spent together at the beach. Write a note in the journal to your child. “When I was walking the dog today, the sunset was amazing. Pink, purple and some orange. It made me think of you and reminded me of the time when we were at the beach and . . .”. Make sure to date each and every entry. Someday you will be able to present this journal to your child and they will realize that you thought of them often and wished you were together.
- Put together a parent-child picture memory album. Children love to see pictures of themselves when they were little and especially pictures with their parents. Purchase a photo album or a binder to create a parent-child memory album. Add special photos of you and your child and write in notes and details. Someday you will be able to present this memory album to your child. If you are seeing your children regularly, this is still a great idea!
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and Parental Alienation Awareness Month. Parental alienation is any act by a parent that tries to destroy the relationship between a child and their other parent. Though not a syndrome or diagnosis, parental alienation can be considered a form of psychological abuse.
And childhood happiness most often does not include the word “abuse.”
Join us in the prevention of parental alienation and child abuse. Support your children’s happiness and encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with their other parent!
Many of us have been spending more time at home than ever — but are we truly connecting, engaging and sharing with each other, especially our children?
Parents are trying hard to keep up with work amid the distractions at home, but children are also struggling with this new arrangement. They need our attention and time.
Parents are busy, but intentionally carving out quality time together can help.
Quality time doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost money. Even small moments can be a source of connection with our children. Check out our ideas below for how we can spend more quality time with our kids while staying safer at home.
- Have a dance party
- Color together
- Play Hide and seek
- Play Candyland
- Play tic-tac-toe
- Do arts and crafts
- Decorate your home with pictures you draw together
- Read together
- Make cards for family and friends
- Create a scavenger hunt for things around the house
- Paint with watercolors
- Play “Go Fish”
- Play charades
- Play Pictionary
- Watch a movie together
- Play the Guess the Feeling game
- Make pizza or mac and cheese and eat together
- Play video games together (in moderation)
- Bake cookies together
- Make and enjoy smoothies together
- Ride bikes together
- Have a dance or sing-a-long party
- Watch their favorite show with them
- Play board games
- Cook a recipe and eat together
- Go for a walk together
- Go for a drive to pick up special takeout or a treat
- Give yourselves manicures or pedicures together
- Make tie-dye shirts together
- Listen to each other’s music
- Create a family picture album together
- Do something fun that your teen enjoyed when they were younger, like coloring hard-boiled eggs, cutting out snowflakes or drawing together
As parents, sometimes we get so caught up in being adults or parents that we forget how to get down on the floor and play, or that dance parties and sing-a-longs are fun. When it comes to spending time with our kids, the activity is less important than the quality of the time together! Find your inner child and make the most of being at home with your children. No one is watching, so let yourself have some fun. You deserve it!
By Executive Director Cindy Grossman, LCSW
As fun as the holidays can be, they can also bring a good deal of stress — not to mention when COVID-19 is spreading and stay-at-home orders are in place.
With COVID-19 concerns, co-parents worry about what will happen at the other parent’s home. Are our children going to family gatherings? Did they get together with large groups? You want your children to be safe while enjoying the holidays.
So, what can we do to have a safe and enjoyable holiday that is as stress-free as possible?
Here are our top tips for co-parenting through a COVID-19 holiday. And don’t miss the Facebook Live conversation on this topic featuring Executive Director Cindy Grossman!
Focus on what you can control.
You can certainly share your concerns about COVID precautions with your co-parent, but ultimately you have zero control over what happens at your co-parent’s house. So, what can you control?
You can prepare your children to protect themselves, and you can make a COVID-prevention plan for your own home. Sit down with your children and create a prevention strategy for whenever anyone returns to the home. For example, maybe clothes should be change or put right into the washing machine, or maybe everyone will take a bath or shower.
Remind your children to wash their hands. Make or purchase face masks that you think your children would like to wear and encourage them to wear them whenever they are outside their homes. Get them some hand sanitizer and attach it to their backpack.
Use a yard stick or measuring tape and stand apart to show your children what six feet of distance looks like. By measuring out six feet together, your children will have a visual idea of what “social distancing” means and how they can keep their distance to stay safer.
Remember, you can do all of this at your own home, but you have no control outside of your home. If you feel it necessary to get COVID tests when your children return to your home, if you are able to get them, this is one thing you would have control to implement.
Discuss and coordinate holiday plans ahead of time.
Whether or not you have court orders for how holiday time with your children should be shared, be sure to plan ahead and coordinate holiday time. Discuss via email so that you can have a record of what was discussed and eliminate any confusion. Planning ahead reduces stress and chaos for both co-parents and children alike. Plus, children can have fun with both parents without worrying! Children crave structure, so create a calendar for holiday plans that will help children know what to expect.
Be flexible and focus on creating new traditions.
Remember that the holidays are not about a specific date. Yes, the calendar shows that Hanukkah begins December 10th and Christmas Day is December 25th, but YOUR holiday is when you are able to be with your children. Focus on creating memories and new traditions to make the holiday time you do have together extra special. Play games, watch movies, drink hot chocolate, have a dance party, or make ornaments! In the end, your children just want to spend time with you. The holiday is the time together, not the date.
Communicate with your children.
Listen to your children and validate their feelings. You are living in two different family units, and it may be more stressful or upsetting during the holidays. Remind your children that it’s okay to have lots of feelings, and that all their feelings are important. When your children are leaving for their other parent’s house, please don’t tell them how much you will miss them or how sad you are they will not be with you on the holiday. If you do this, your children may feel guilty about leaving you or feel sad for you. Sending them off worried about you isn’t fair to them!
Instead, encourage your children to have a good time with their other parent, and tell them you will see them when they get back. Although the holidays are a fun time, please don’t tease your children with hints about all the fun things or surprises you have for when they get back. They deserve to have a happy time at their other parent’s house without holding back because they are anticipating the fun things they will do with you when they return.
Your children deserve to have relationships with both of their parents, and we hope you will let this happen for your children. Regardless of how you feel, we encourage you to keep your feelings to yourself and take care of you without sharing your feelings with your children. Remember, the holidays are not a date, they are family time, whenever the family time occurs.
Don’t make the holidays a competition.
Your children’s other parent is not “better” if they can give more gifts than you. Remember that the meaning of the holiday comes from time spent together and special memories made. Your children will treasure the meaningful moments with you more than any present they open.
2020 has been a challenging year for us all. As we try to put the difficulties of this year behind us, we encourage you to do the same with your co-parenting relationship. Whatever you’ve been struggling with and dealing with as co-parents, aim to go into 2021 with positivity and respect in your co-parenting relationship. Your children will thank you for putting them first.
Happy Holidays from Kids' Turn San Diego!
It’s Thanksgiving already! This year has flown by and also seemed sooo long! We encourage you to take some time and notice the beauty in everything around you.
Among all the uncertainty, focus your energy on what you can control and be thankful for all of it! We invite you to reflect and appreciate. Create Thanksgiving memories with your children that they will remember forever.
No matter what your holiday plans are, this will be a Thanksgiving like none other.
Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting sick or spreading COVID-19. Here are some ways to help everyone stay safe and healthy.
The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to help make your celebration safer.
Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering
If you are having guests in your home, before they arrive, ask them to agree to take steps to keep your Thanksgiving celebration as safe as possible. Ask guests to wear masks, to wash hands frequently and to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet.
Other steps you can take include:
- Have a small, distanced outdoor meal with family and friends.
- Limit the number of guests and follow state guidelines.
- Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for safely celebrating together.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use, and do not share utensils or serving spoons.
- If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows to circulate fresh air.
- Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
- Have guests bring their own food and drinks.
- If you are sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.
To review Thanksgiving guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.
Prefer not to gather? Here are some alternate ways to celebrate.
- Try a virtual Zoom or FaceTime Thanksgiving with family and friends who are far away.
- Enjoy the holiday with a special celebration with members of your household.
- Watch a holiday movie with your household or plan a virtual Watch Party.
- Call family members, especially grandparents, and share what you are all thankful for this season.
- Make family Thanksgiving posters and drive to family homes, honking the horn, so they come out and see your posters while you stay in your car.
Activities with the family
- Play a gratitude game where each person writes down what they are thankful for and shares it with other family members.
- Get ideas for Thanksgiving games and activities from online or download printables to do together.
- Click here for a printable conversation starter game to play at family table or even virtually.
Happy Thanksgiving from Kids’ Turn San Diego!
While risk can’t be avoided completely, we can take steps to ensure we are minimizing risk as much as possible. Here are some ideas for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating:
- Hide Halloween candy or small treats around your home or backyard and send kids on a Halloween candy hunt!
- Start a new family tradition of having a spooky Halloween dinner together. Have kids get involved in cooking or setting the table as appropriate.
- Carve or decorate pumpkins with friends or neighbors at a safe distance outside, and show off your creative designs.
- Get crafty with your kids and create fun and festive Halloween decorations for your home.
- Host a virtual costume contest with other families or relatives so kids can show off their costumes!
- Create a scavenger hunt for Halloween- or fall-themed items around your neighborhood. Walk around as a family and point out fun decorations or pretty fall leaves.
- Queue up a Halloween movie night at home. Make it special with themed snacks and drinks, or build a comfy fort together with blankets and pillows.
If you do decide to go trick-or-treating, it is important to avoid going door-to-door to multiple households, where it can be difficult to socially distance and the risk of exposure is higher. Instead, limit your area to a friend’s house or other small, familiar area to stay safer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress the importance of wearing protective masks whenever you are in the presence of others. When trick-or-treating, ensure that everyone in the family is wearing a cloth or surgical mask (not just a costume mask). Do not have children wear a costume mask over a cloth or surgical mask as this can make it hard for them to breathe.
After returning home from trick-or-treating, have the entire family wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and lay out collected candy on a clean surface for a few hours to allow time for any virus on the candy to die.
From all of us at Kids’ Turn San Diego, we wish you a fun and safe Halloween!
Source: Kaiser Permanente
The decision to have your child attend physical or virtual school is difficult for any family, but separated families may face additional complications during this process. In an environment where communication may already be strained, families experiencing separations and/or divorce may encounter high stress and anxiety. Effective and healthy communication is vital to the health and wellbeing of your children during this COVID-19 season. In order to assist you and your family’s journey through this transitional period, we recommend utilizing the acronym “APPLES” to help get your children (and yourself!) ready for the school year.
Acknowledge the fears of both parents and children. We understand that parents have different views and opinions of physical and virtual schooling. Recognize that you, your co-parent, and/or child may have some anxiety about going back to school. If there is conflict on the type of schooling for your child, we recommend having open discussions. Co-parents must listen to each other and to their child in order to determine the most appropriate type of schooling. For young children, Sesame Street produces videos that help children express their feelings in a healthy manner. Click here to watch one of their videos.
Prepare children for what they can expect when going back to school (in person or virtually). If your child is going back to school in person, discuss and practice what will happen when school starts. Discussion topics can include the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing from friends and teachers, washing hands, how they feel about going back to school, and understanding that some friends may/may not be at school. Massachusetts’s Department of Mental Health has a great “back to school” social story template that you can use to prepare your child for school during COVID-19.
For those attending school virtually, the same discussion topics are important. We would encourage adding a discussion on why your child is not attending school in person and asking your child how they feel about that. It’s important to have an ongoing conversation with your child on what COVID-19 is and how your child feels about it. We want to ensure that children receive enough information so they feel empowered, but not too much information where they are in fear. San Diego County has some great resources that help talk to your children about COVID-19.
Check out this helpful video from San Diego Family Mediation Center on how co-parents can develop a new co-parenting plan in light of alternative school formats this year.
We understand that scheduling is a commonly source of frustration for families experiencing separation or divorce; however, familiarity, structure and routines are important to the mental and physical health of children. Continue to communicate and work with your co-parent to create and maintain a schedule so that your child can have consistency during this period of uncertainty. Note that structure looks different for children of various ages and learning capabilities; therefore, schedules and routines should be adjusted to the needs of your child. Check out this link from the CDC for tips on how to build structure.
Continually staring at a screen is strenuous for both adults and children. If your child is with you during this period, take “recess” together! Go for a walk, do brief fitness challenges, do a meditation/prayer/breath break, color, or attend “PE” with your child if they are attending virtual school. Continue to eat healthy, exercise, and get adequate sleep for both you and your child. Both your child’s health and yours are important!
Keep an eye out for signs of stress and anxiety in you and your child. COVID-19 is a stressful for everyone. Maintain lines of communication with your co-parent so you may be more aware if your child is showing signs of stress and anxiety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers articles on behavioral changes to watch out for in adults, children and teens.
To understand what some youth may go through, check out the video “Numb” made by Liv McNeil, a 9th grader, on feelings of isolation during quarantine. It is a powerful video and only 3 minutes and 22 seconds, and it may give you a glimpse of what some youth are experiencing.
We understand that this is a total business buzzword, but it fits for family life! This is the time for co-parents and children to cooperate and work together in order to create an environment that will support not only your child’s mental health and education but will be beneficial to your lives as well. There are a lot of stressors due to COVID-19 and friction between family members is an added burden. We know it’s difficult, but try to maintain healthy communication with your co-parent and child and find productive ways to convey thoughts and feelings with each other.
This may seem overwhelming, but remember to take a deep breath and know that you have got this! We at Kids’ Turn San Diego commend and applaud you for your perseverance and dedication to your children during these uncertain times. If you want to improve communication skills with your co-parent and/or child, please check out one of our virtual Kids’ Turn San Diego Family Workshops! We teach healthy communication skills for both parents and your child. Click here for more information about our virtual program.