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Interview with a Therapist (Karissa Anderson)

Welcome back to our Interview with a Therapist Series! This week Emily sat down with one of our newest counselors, Karissa Anderson, to talk about why so many children and their families are frustrated with virtual learning! 

So, Karissa, we know that virtual learning is kind of a stressful thing for both children and parents as we try to navigate this new system. And a lot of people are really frustrated. But you know, with kids, that's so much more complicated. Why do you think so many children are frustrated with virtual learning?

I think so much of it is dysregulation. Dysregulation is basically the inability to regulate your emotions. And often dysregulation occurs when there's a lot of changes going on. And it's difficult to process all these changes happening. And so sometimes dysregulation can look like defiance, it can look like the child's misbehaving. But in reality, a lot of the time, the emotions the child is experiencing is anxiety, fear, overwhelmed, you know, all these things going on, because of all these changes. So I think it's really important for parents to be aware that that's probably a lot of what's happening with this, with the frustrations that come with this virtual learning. 

I like to remember, you know, we look at it from the adult perspective, with the pandemic, we have, a lot of us have had to start working from home, we've maybe lost jobs, we're feeling isolated, maybe more so than we ever have. And the children are feeling the same way. And maybe they're not able to express it, though, as well as we can, as adults. So I like to just remind parents and guardians that, children are experiencing the exact same feelings we are about what's going on, they've been plucked from their routine, they aren't seeing their teachers or their classmates anymore, other social events have been canceled, there's a lot of things that they have going on. And so that may be part of why this dysregulation is happening. And this frustration with virtual learning is occurring. 

I also want to remind parents about screen fatigue. So as a lot of us have had to start working from home, making that shift, we've experienced screen fatigue, looking at the screen all day is exhausting. So making sure that you take breaks and making sure that you maybe have outdoor time to get some fresh air, those kinds of things can help reduce that screen fatigue, and maybe even reduce that frustration with virtual learning. 

So my next question is, How can parents help ease but that frustration? I think you touched on it a little bit with taking breaks, but what are some other strategies that they can use? 

So I think structure is so important. I think we don't really think kids like structure, but they do. They like to know what's expected of them. They like to know what each day holds that kind of thing. And when they're in school, they have so much structure, right? Like they know exactly what time they go to lunch, what time they go to this class, that kind of stuff. I think trying to have some form of structure each day is going to be really helpful, and making sure that you're still taking, those recesses in between classes, or subjects or whatever, and making sure that you're taking time to do some fun activities can really help just kind of alleviate that frustration and give them that structure that they're probably really craving.

For those parents who might be feeling like this is so much more overwhelming than they thought, what would you say to them, and what other resources are out there for them?

I know that there's a lot of resources like Khan Academy, and a lot of other free apps and websites that can help with the academic aspect of things. Looking into those kinds of things, and then also staying in touch with teachers, and being able to keep that communication with teachers, if there's things that they're feeling frustrated about, or they're not getting when it comes to the academic part.

And then also just the emotional part. Parents need to be taking care of themselves during this time more than ever, right? Because they're modeling this for the children. We need to be as parents, they need to be, taking their own mental health into account so that they're sure that they're doing their best and then their children are going to see that and hopefully model that same behavior. Counseling is a great resource. If parents are finding that their children are really struggling with this transition counseling may be a really good option.

Mindsight would happily welcome anybody who feels like now they need a little

extra support. I'm going to link our website in the description of this video and you guys can also feel free to give us a call. Our number is 606-401-1266. We will answer and help you get connected with someone who can get you a little bit of extra support

Karissa Anderson, LPCC