Dr. Damon Korb, clinical director and founder of the Center for Developing Minds, offered advice about parenting during the pandemic at an event hosted by Santa Catalina School's Parents Association on January 21.
Dr. Korb is a behavioral and developmental pediatrician and the author of Raising an Organized Child. His talk, "Finding Certainty Amongst Uncertainty," was designed to help families cope with their children's moods and behaviors during this time.
"It is incredible to have the school, the Parents Association, and a generous donor come together to support our families with an educational opportunity like this from a nationally known expert," said Amy Aldrich-McAfee, director of curriculum and learning in the Lower and Middle School and the learning specialist for PreK-Grade 4.
Because many students are distance learning, Dr. Korb said it's a good opportunity for parents to see how their children learn and how they interact with teachers and classmates. To help parents understand their child's learning style, he defined six types of students: distracted, daydreaming, overly active, disruptive, anxious, and unmotivated. He described each type and offered ways for parents to help their child succeed. For example, for anxious students, he suggested parents try to help them lessen their stress by breaking down tasks, encouraging breaks to pause and reset, and emphasizing completion and effort over grades.
Dr. Korb also addressed concerns of social isolation. Even if children aren't seeing their friends in person, he said, spending time together as a family can go a long way toward helping them feel connected. He suggests coming up with activities to look forward to, such as hikes, game nights, or cooking together.
Many parents are concerned about how much time their children spend in front of screens, but Dr. Korb acknowledged that screen time may be the only way some students are able to connect with their friends, and he suggested parents allow some leniency. There are three types of screen time, he said: educational, intentional, and passive. Passive time is what needs to be managed.
Dr. Korb also emphasized the importance of having consistent rules and routines—when children know what to expect, they feel less stressed. To help parents manage their own stress, he gave them permission to take care of themselves first. Not only does this help parents feel better, it also models healthy behavior for their children.
All of the Lower and Middle School faculty attended Dr. Korb's talk and benefited from his insights.
"It was gratifying to hear that things like eating dinner together, keeping routines, finding physical outlets, and turning off social media are small ways we can help our children be healthy during these tumultuous times and that we have long recommended in the Lower School as a matter of course," said Ms. McAfee. "It was also very useful to hear as an educator how important it is for students to find success in school at least 80 percent of the time to avoid them shutting down. That is a great benchmark to use to identify when we as the adults need to intervene and support our children in a different way so they can feel engaged and successful."