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Valemount Elementary
Programs & Services

Counsellor's Corner

by Shirley Giroux

 Hello again Valemount community members,
Although it may feel like our lives are currently more outside our control than usual, it is valuable to focus on those areas where we can still have some control, even if it is just choosing how to react to what is going on. We experience anxiety when we feel like we are lacking control or predictability in our lives… and we sure have a lot of both of these lately! By looking for controllable aspects and taking advantage of them, we can support our own good mental health, which can then also provide a good example for our children. So, what might this look like in practice? The attached “circle of control” for kids can give us some ideas of where to start.
One controllable aspect is how we choose to think about the stress of being in the middle of a pandemic. Thinking of this time as a challenge that we can and will overcome will lead to less stress than viewing the situation as hopeless, which can lead to feelings of helplessness (one of those two sources of anxiety). Another controllable aspect is the choice we have to accept the newly increased amounts of time we are home together as a chance to strengthen parent-child relationships. Whether it’s more time cooking together, working on a multi-step art project (scrapbooks, anyone?), or playing a time-consuming board game, now might be the time to try some of those things that usually tend to be put off until “later.” Any of these activities can be a great opportunity to practice the “3 Cs” of resilience:
·      control (taking charge of controllable aspects to help keep a positive outlook),
·      challenge (thinking of mistakes as opportunities for growth), and
·      commitment (staying actively engaged with meaningful pursuits, whether work, family time, helping others, etc.).
Looking for controllable aspects does not mean trying to control other people. It does mean accepting the reality of what “is” and then trying to focus on what we can do right now. We can’t expect children to understand or be happy with staying home and not seeing their friends, but we can help them to accept that this is necessary. We might even be able to help them learn valuable skills to support resilience and good mental health into their own adult lives. Explain to your kids that we are all trying to figure out how to keep each other safe and healthy and that it is new and kind of uncomfortable for almost everyone but that this doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun—this fun just might look a little different for the next while. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself; whatever small ways you are able to help your kids (and you) focus on the controllable aspects are good enough. 😊 Remember that you are not in this alone.
If you have any questions or concerns about your own or your children’s mental health or ability to cope through this challenging time, please email me at [ mailto:sgiroux@sd57.bc.ca ]sgiroux@sd57.bc.ca. I will usually get back to people within 24 hours. If you need help immediately, please call the BC Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 for free support available 24 hours a day (do not add 604, 778, or 250 before the number) or call 911 if you believe that your life or someone else’s life is in danger.
Have a good weekend and don't forget it's a pro-d day tomorrow (Friday).
Let’s continue working together to keep each other healthy. 
Shirley Giroux
Valemount school counsellor