Parent Resources

Sharing words of wisdom from a Superintendent in our community…

Coping with change is hard for most people. Not being able to plan for next week or even next month is uniquely hard. When we are required to face the unknown, not be in control, it’s normal for all of us, adults and children, to feel out of sync, hard to settle; the psychological term for this is “emotional dis-regulation.”

Here are some tips to help everyone feel calmer and less irritable as we learn incrementally how to live with the change of feeling isolated while being “too together” all at once:

1. Your children are actively paying attention to how you feel, talk and behave. Even very young children look to you first to know whether they should worry or not. They listen to your words, your tone, watch your actions, they react to your moods. They eavesdrop on your communications with others and come to their own (often mistaken) conclusions.

That said, it’s pretty safe to assume that this pandemic is unique to all our experiences. It’s normal that as information is updated hourly, and recommendations change daily, adults may feel that our world is upside down and inside out – our anxiety is normal.
What can you do about it?

Talking with another caring adult about your feelings is helpful (out of the children’s earshot); reminding yourself of other times in your life when you have felt anxious and uncertain about the future can be reassuring; creating a plan for your family just for today and tomorrow may be productive and doable-looking further down the road may not be possible and lead you to feel more out of control.

2. Create a routine for the day. Even a schedule, for example, when we will play together, and time to play independently. (Of course, this will depend on your child’s age and capacity to play alone. A timer works well here). Time for family mealtimes, clean up, predictable bedtimes, nap times (for both kids and grown ups), some form of exercise, indoors or if possible, in your backyard. Other planned time for reading, screen time, family movie time, game time.

If children are old enough, and you have enough bandwidth, opportunities to help with meal preparation, clean up.

3. Limit your own access to media coverage. Information, when delivered calmly and by a trustworthy source, typically helps us feel more in control. It’s necessary to be informed so that we can keep up with the changes and required adjustments. That said, a steady diet of news, 24/7, creates its own layer of stress. Decide when and how often you will get your information from media sources. Choose from a host of other more soothing “background electronic wallpapers” that may even entertain, inspire, educate. It is said that music “calms the savage beast within.”

4. Talk with your children about changes only as they affect your family’s day-to-day living. Children by nature are egocentric; for instance, “How will this affect me?” Knowing the new rules of the road for this unique family experience is important. Simple explanations are best. Letting children ask questions as they arise, rather than prompting them, or assuming their feelings, is helpful. Try not to anticipate how their lives may be affected weeks or months from now. It’s about today.

5. Development matters. How your child understands and reacts to new information from you will vary but their age and stage will help guide you to understand their reaction(s):

Very young children, 3-6 years old, require only the simplest of explanations about what’s happening today as it affects them. Remember that routines are reassuring to everyone, especially toddlers and preschoolers. “Mommy is working at home today” is enough for many children.

Early elementary age children may have more questions and concerns about the pandemic than their younger siblings. Let them lead you with their questions; answer simply and clearly, always reminding them that it’s your job to keep the family safe. Although the virus is unlikely to affect your family, you may make decisions to protect others in your community.
Words like “contagious,” “social distancing,” “quarantines” may be unfamiliar to them. It’s important to speak in a reassuring way that is clear and simple. For example, “Staying home from school and work keeps the virus from spreading so we will be doing that. It just makes sense” or “I need to work from home and you have school work as well. Let’s talk about a plan for the rest of the day.”

Late elementary/middle school children may worry about their older and extended family members, or threatening financial situations. They may feel its “unfair” if their friends are allowed to gather in small groups but you have said no. Remind them that your rules are for their health and the health of others who may be more impacted; each family makes their own decisions for their own family’s well being.

Adolescents are able to understand the unlikely but possible negative health and financial impact that the Corona virus may have on their family, their community, both local and national.

That said, cancelled school may sound terrific at first but it carries with it cancelled sport seasons, plays and concerts they have rehearsed for months, anticipated school vacation trips. Without school and after school activities, they may feel depressed and anxious, isolated from their friends and routines. We know that adolescents fantasize about their “immortality.” Be sure to concretize the risks of “not physically distancing” and that they need to trust you to make the rules that will keep them safe from harm. Expect them to express their understandable disappointment, anger, confusion, worry, etc. (More) moodiness is pretty normal.

When you acknowledge their feelings and not attempt to minimize them, they may be able to sit with them, and even surprise you – by problem-solving ways to adapt. Isn’t that what we want for our adolescents?

6. Consider the marathon, not the sprint. The first days and weeks of a crisis summon up enormous amounts of energy (albeit it anxious) in all of us. We listen and react to our leaders (both local and national), health care providers, educators, and community helpers as they develop emergency plans, roll out procedures, and problem-solve.

If history informs, possibly very shortly, we will collectively feel as though we have hit a “wall of exhaustion” as we sort out how to sustain difficult, if not seemingly impossible, changes in our families’ lives, no matter how long these changes last. We grieve our lives before and yearn for them.
Taking care for ourselves now seems prudent. Today. You know how: practice healthy sleep, personal hygiene, mindful breathing (five minutes a day is all it takes!) Move our bodies, rest our minds, use technology to connect with others, discover ways to laugh, find meaning in sacrifice.

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    Supporting Our Students »
  • Resources For Youth and Young Adults

    UMass Medical School has compiled a unique list of resources for youth, young adults, and college students, as well as families and professionals working with young adults.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Return To School Safely, Together

    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is working with your children's school district to help everyone return to learning this fall. Because of the pandemic, we are all learning new ways of doing things. And we remain committed to the well-being and growth of every student.

    Topics on this site include: Why Doctors Say We Are Ready To Return To School, School Reopening Guidance For Families, and Frequently Asked Questions About Returning To School.

    Supporting Our Students »
  • Sacred Heart Food Pantry

    The Sacred Heart Food Pantry is located in the rear of the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, at 53 Oak Street, Middleboro.

    Pantry Hours:
    First 4 Saturdays 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    First and third Wednesdays 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    Second and fourth Wednesdays 4 PM - 6:30 PM

    Find Assistance »
  • The Salvation Army: Massachusetts Division

    Are You in Need of Assistance? Enter your zip code to find The Salvation Army's social service programs near you, including food distribution sites.

    Find Assistance »
  • School Closure Meal Information

    Google Docs list of places kids can get school lunches free across the state.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Seeking Support For Our Children With IEPs and Support Needs

    Massachusetts Families Organizing For Change (mfofc.org) is connecting our families with experienced educators, physical/speech/occupational therapists, behavioral specialists, nurses and other consultants

    Please fill out the form below (opens as a Google Doc) and you will be put in contact with an educator who can have a phone call, a Google Hangout, Zoom call, or a video chat to better help you support your children with disabilities.

    Special Education Resources »
  • Sibling Support Groups with UMass Medical

    New Program! Supporting Siblings During COVID-19

    A support group exclusively for siblings and caregivers of challenged children.

    For more information, contact Emily Rubin at 857-523-1145 or emily.rubin@umassmed.edu

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Signs Your Child/Teen May Need Help

    Children express their emotions in many ways. During COVID-19, your child or teen may be showing signs of stress that you haven’t seen before. Find out the signs to look for, and how to support your child/teen.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Signs Your Young Child (ages 0 - 5) May Need Help

    Young children are very sensitive to their caregivers’ stress and may not be able to talk about their worries and fears. During COVID-19, your young child may be showing signs of stress that you haven’t seen before. Find out the signs to look for, and how to support your young child.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • SNAP Benefits

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides a monthly benefit to buy nutritious foods. To get SNAP, you must be low-income and be a U.S. citizen or legal noncitizen (restrictions apply). Eligibility for SNAP benefits depends on financial and nonfinancial criteria.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, all qualified households will receive the maximum SNAP benefit.

    Find Assistance »
  • The Social Care Network

    Enter your zip code to search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food, job training, and more.

    Find Assistance »
  • Southcoast Health Patient Hotline

    Southcoast Health has established a 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline for patients who have symptoms, travel history, or exposure they are concerned may be related to the Coronavirus.

    Call 508-973-1919 for assessment, answers, and advice on next-steps. Our Nursing Triage Hotline will ensure you receive the appropriate level of care while safeguarding the public and Southcoast's workforce.

    Spanish and Portuguese-speaking interpreters are available.

    Stay Healthy »
  • Special Education & COVID-19: MAC Biweekly Chat Series

    MAC (Massachusetts Advocates For Children) is leading biweekly virtual chats for parents to connect with each other and learn tips for advocating for your children during this pandemic.

    Meets every other Thursday at 8 pm. Advanced registration is required by following the link below.

    Find Support »
  • Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPaN)

    Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPaN) features a series of webinars and PowerPoint slideshows on topics related to special education during COVID-19.

    Special Education Resources »
  • Special Education Video Resources

    Federation For Children With Special Needs YouTube channel hosts a series of videos focused on special education topics including: IEP, transition planning, and special education rights.

    Special Education Resources »
  • Student Remote Learning Record

    Documentation is key. It's important for us to keep a written log of our child's progress during the COVID-19 homebound learning. But we're already trying to keep track of so many things!

    Federation For Children With Special Needs created a simplified Student Remote Learning Record. This PDF download will give you the ability to quickly mark off key information each week.

    Supporting Our Students »
  • Supporting Kids During the Coronavirus Crisis

    Tips from Child Mind Institute for nurturing and protecting children at home.

    Child Mind Institute will also be hosting twice-daily English, and twice-weekly Spanish Facebook livesteams with Child Mind Institute experts, answering your questions about parenting during the coronavirus.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Supporting Learning At Home

    Unschooling. Homeschooling. Crisis schooling. What is the difference? And what are the best learning strategies for your child?

    Supporting Our Students »
  • Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource

    Guidelines and tips for talking with your children about COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Talking To Kids About Coronavirus

    HumanityCrew features a video on talking to kids about Coronavirus.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Talking To Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus

    Experts offer advice on how parents can help adolescents get the facts straight and be prepared.

    Caring For Our Teens »
  • Telehealth Telephone and Internet Connectivity Resources

    MassHealth has provided a list of resources to assist with accessing telehealth services, including assistance with the cost of telephone and internet services.

    Stay Healthy »
  • Time To Come In, Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing

    A YouTube animation by Kim St. Lawrence, children's author, explaining the importance of social distancing.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • Tips For Social Distancing, Quarantine, And Isolation During An Infectious Disease Outbreak

    SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association) explains social distancing, quarantine, isolation, and ways to care for your behavioral health during these experiences.

    Practice Self Care »
  • The Ultimate Parents' Guide to Education and Activity Resources

    To give parents a sense of what’s out there, we’ve compiled resources in 10 categories: education, travel, reading, mental wellness, music, art, physical activity, theater and dance, languages and entertainment.

    Family Time »
  • Unemployment Assistance For the Self-Employed

    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits.

    Find Assistance »
  • Unemployment Due to COVID-19?

    Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development published a step-by-step guide to applying for unemployment due to COVID-19.

    *links for Rhode Island and Connecticut are included, as well

    Find Assistance »
  • Vaping and Teens

    Concerned about youth vaping at home while schools are closed? Massachusetts Department of Public Health has information and resources for parents and for you on how to combat this addiction.

    Supporting Our Teens »
  • Virtual Service Delivery

    Brazelton Touchpoints Center is offering a series of free 1-hour webinars and an online learning community that will explore the challenges posed by virtual service delivery and share strategies providers have found for building and sustaining strong relationships with families virtually.

    Navigating Virtual Services »
  • Well Connection for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Members

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts members can see licensed doctors and providers for minor medical and behavioral health care using live video visits on your favorite device.

    Telephone: 800-821-1388

    Stay Healthy »
  • When Family Members are Hospitalized Due To COVID-19

    These hospitalizations can be extremely challenging not only for patients, but also for families who might experience distress due to uncertainty about a loved one’s recovery.

    Caring For Our Children »
  • WiFi and Unlimited Data For Low Income Families

    For the next 60 days, Comcast is offering FREE nationwide access to Xfinity Wifi for low-income families to stay connected to the Internet for education, work, personal health reasons, and more. They will be providing 60 days of complimentary Internet service for new customers, and increasing speeds for new and existing customers.

    Find Assistance »
  • Working and Learning From Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak

    Many families now face new challenges: how do we care for our children while working and schooling at home, and not panic during this unprecedented outbreak?

    Working From Home »
  • Working From Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    UMass Medical released a helpful PDF guide with tips and strategies on working remotely and staying connected.

    Working From Home »
  • Wrightslaw Special Education Advocate Newsletter

    The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter from Wrightslaw. The newsletter provides accurate, up-to-date information about special education legal and advocacy issues. Our goal is to help readers navigate the confusing world of special education and get quality services for children with disabilities.

    Special Education Resources »