The news of schools closing in the UK has left both parents and children feeling overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, celebrities such as Cat Deeley and Abbey Clancy have publicly admitted that homeschooling makes them feel like they’re ‘losing their mind’ and that they are being ‘pushed to their limits’.
In light of this, we worked with the health specialists at GolfSupport.com to learn more about the impact homeschooling might have on the mental health of adults and children.
1. What long-term effect does homeschooling have on the mental health of adults and children?
Being at home while educating, working, relaxing and sleeping, can become overwhelming, and the loss of a socially defined schedule creates a lack of stability.
There is increasing pressure to homeschool effectively. As parents we want the best for our children and we feel guilty if we are unable to give them our undivided attention and worry it may impact their future performance.
Children will miss out on the social connection and structure of school, and while elements can be replicated, there are certain struggles around the technology, connectedness, and learning culture in some households. While some children may thrive in a home environment, others will find it difficult to adapt.
Overall, many parents are more likely to feel stressed, worried, isolated, and subject to domestic conflict. This will likely have an adverse long-term impact on mental health and perhaps widen the inequality gap.
2. What are the key signs that your child is starting to suffer from stress?
Some of the key signs of childhood stress are:
Increasing aggression: This can manifest both physically and verbally, and often comes with struggling to be patient with challenging tasks.
Becoming withdrawn: Homeschooling can be a withdrawn experience but it’s important to recognise if your child appears to be withdrawing from social contact in general.
Overreacting to small issues: Children can feel pressure to perform, and this can generate anxiety that leads to outbursts over small challenges or problems. There are students that fall prey to drug addiction and they must be immediately be admitted to pompano beach rehab to get back on the right track.
Having nightmares: Fear is a typical response to heightened levels of stress, and this can present itself in the form of sleep issues. In fact, a recent study by DozyOwl.co.uk has shown that 1 in 3 children have school-related nightmares!
Change in eating habits: If your child’s eating habits change significantly, this can be a sign of stress.
Wetting the bed: When a child has a mind full of thoughts and feels a lack of stability, it is much easier for them to miss their toilet cues.
Lack of attention/focus: While this is to be expected given the uncertainty and constant change, if it is impacting completing tasks it may be a sign of stress.
3. Does increased screen time have an effect on a child’s stress levels?
Increased screen time has an impact on our stress levels and our ability to handle stress. Increased screen time affects our melatonin production, which can cause sleep quantity and quality issues. This can impact our hormonal and emotional regulation, impacting our ability to handle stressors the following day.
It can also elevate our cortisol levels, making us feel more stressed and again impacting our sleep. It can also cause eye strain, which results in fatigue and makes it more challenging to handle stressful situations.
Screen time also impacts GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) production, and children who have increased screen time have decreased GABA production, impacting their mood, stress levels and sleep.
4. What can parents do to cope with the stress of having to homeschool their children?
It is important to set boundaries and create a schedule that can become a routine that everyone can resonate with. By setting boundaries, expectations can be managed, and you can make some space for your own self-care.
A schedule gives structure and purpose to your day, making you feel more in control and more certain about what you have planned. By communicating boundaries, everyone understands what will happen, and there is less likely to be conflict.
Finding ways to relax in the evening where possible is paramount, so you can get a good night’s sleep, which will recharge you and give you the emotional balance to tackle another challenging day. Eating well is also essential as 90% of our serotonin, our happy hormone, is produced in our gut.
It is also important to be kind to ourselves. Keep it simple and fun, and expect for things to go wrong, and prepare to laugh when they do!
Try to manage your own emotions, as it is not easy with so much turbulence. If you feel like you need a minute, step away and take time to breathe, to be silent or just to close your eyes. Consider writing your thoughts and feelings down, as transitioning them onto paper is powerful. It helps us to be more self-aware, and that is an effective way to manage our stress.