As students prepare to embark on a new school term, they continue to grapple with the changing face of education against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some, home-based learning will continue until at least 6 July as Singapore fights cases of community infection. Studying from home, the students miss their friends and social interaction.

This can be frustrating for young people as well as their parents, as they struggle to help. Here are some pointers from Singapore Children’s Society’s Storm Riders programme which can help children through their frustration:

Deep breathing

Deep breathing is a simple exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere. Slowing breathing down can help restore calm.

  • Step 1: Take a deep breath in through your nose while counting to 5
  • Step 2: Hold your breath for 3 seconds
  • Step 3: Breathe out through your mouth while counting to 5
  • Step 4: Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel calm again

Ground yourself

Grounding exercises are activities that can help interrupt negative thoughts. Here are three simple grounding exercises you can try.

  • Imagine a place or object that makes you happy
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Count backwards from 100 to 1, or skip counts by 3s (e.g. 100, 97, 94, 91, …)

Open up

Encourage your child to speak to an adult he or she is comfortable with, and who might provide sensible advice

  • Guide children to use ‘I’ language: “I feel _____ (feeling) because ______ (the incident). I would like you to _____ (actions)”
  • ‘I’ language provides a way for children to express what they feel or think in terms that help the people around them understand what they need

Use emotion coaching phrases such as “It’s okay to be upset – it’s good to let it out”; “Let’s take a breath, take a break, sit down and pause for a minute”; or “It’s okay to feel how you feel, but it is not okay to __________ (for example, hit someone)”. These phrases define and acknowledge your child’s feelings and show support, and also set boundaries on appropriate and inappropriate behaviours. Most importantly, it makes them feel heard and calm before you problem-solve with them.

Guide children through the S.T.A.R. problem solving method

  • Stop: Calm down, so you respond rather than react
  • Think: Think of at least two ways to manage the situation and how each of those solutions may affect your feelings and the feelings of those around you
  • Act: Pick the most appropriate solution or response
  • Reflect: What was the outcome? Did it work?

For more tips on helping children cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also want to check out the following links: