A Single Father’s View

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By Hugh Wallace, Preventionist

Picture this, week one of the new normal.Home - aka ground zero - a 17-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl, and a 12-year-old boy surrounded by packets on packets of assignments and a place that once was an escape now more resembles triage in a chaotic war zone. Woosaahh!

There are many things that I have learned and in turn taught students about dealing with the chaos life sometimes brings.

Step one, take a long, deep breath.Heck take a couple!I recommend at least five per child in your household. Breathing regulates the body and helps with critical thinking, which you will be doing a lot of for the foreseeable future. In Botvin's LifeSkills Training, a prevention curriculum I teach to elementary and middle school students, one of the techniques for coping with stress is deep breathing.We teach students how important breathing techniques are to reduce stress and anxiety in tough situations.Here's how to do it so it really works:

  • Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
  • Breathe out slowly through your nose.
  • Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
  • As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that's on your chest.
  • Take three more full, deep, breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.


Step two, acknowledge the evident and the awkward truth of your situation, that it's a learning process for everyone including yourself. Trust me, Google Classroom and this "new Math" they speak of is going to take me a while to get used to, just as much as working from home. As an educator I've learned that youth enjoy taking ownership, so encourage this.It not only teaches responsibility but also promotes high self-esteem. There is also an opportunity to learn more about your child's world.What social media sites they are on, what video games they like to play, and how they keep up with the latest trends.Hey, you might just learn some new Tik Tok moves in the process.

Step three, schedule social breaks. As you have already noticed, your child may or may not be used to having their phone while working throughout their regular school day (I know, the nerve of these administrators!).But before you go confiscating phones or threatening to quarantine them all, realize that your children are used to constant social interaction 24/7 and are already feeling isolated because of COVID-19.Many of them are missing out on significant relationships and interactions that they have spent all year or possibly many years building.

Unlike us adults who work through the day nonstop, no distractions and/or interruptions . . . uh, that's what I thought. As working parents, just the same as we are used to our water cooler chats, breakfast bagel bicker, coffee coral - whatever you want to call it - before, during, and after our work day, our children need the same. So do yourselves and them a favor and make time to catch up with the homies – you all will be better for it!

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