It wasn’t long before Idahoans began facing significant impacts once COVID-19 emerged in the state. School closures, job losses, and sick family members—among many other challenges—sent our stress levels skyrocketing.
While we can’t control the pandemic or many of the decisions being made because of it, we can help our families get through the crisis by learning and employing effective coping strategies and healthy behaviors.
In new videos and handouts developed in collaboration between the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, Boise State University’s Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction, and the Idaho Regional Alcohol Drug Awareness Resource (RADAR) Center, you can find tips to help your child navigate challenges such as long, unstructured days; loss of friend connections; anxiety and depression; and other challenges.
“We created these materials to support parents in response to schools closing,” explains Leah Kalk, director of the RADAR Center, a Boise State program and clearinghouse on substance use prevention and treatment information that is free to Idaho residents. “Students suddenly didn’t have access to the support systems they get from their teachers, school counselor or the groups they’re involved in, or substance use prevention programs—so parents were stepping into those roles, in addition to their other responsibilities, without necessarily having the tools to do so.”
The videos and handouts cover helping children (and parents!) develop social-emotional and brain-based wellness—both of which play key roles in mental health, mood, motivation, and a sense of well-being. In addition to creating resiliency in our children, these practices also help prevent and decrease use and misuse of alcohol and drugs.
“People who engage in mindfulness, self-care, and social-emotional wellness have more tools to use than just relying on substances when they have an increase in stress or trauma,” says Kalk.
Kalk also points to a video on cyberbullying as especially relevant and helpful for parents now that children are spending more time online. Additionally, the team created videos to help parents understand how they can help prevent underage drinking, tobacco and illicit drug use, and teen suicide.
All the videos and supplementary handouts are available on the RADAR Center website. They include:
- Structuring Time at Home with Your Kids: Learn to set goals, develop a routine, communicate expectations, and be adaptable in order to create a thriving environment.
Supplementary handout: G-R-E-A-T Principles for Parents to Structure Time at Home with Your Kids
- Social Emotional Wellness for Children: The Importance of Communication, Emotional Regulation, and Practicing Mindfulness: Teach your children how to identify and modulate their emotions, and find effective ways of expressing them.
- Brain-Based Wellness: Understanding Regulated and Dysregulated Emotional States. Discover specific actions you can take to foster greater brain-based wellness for better moods, increased motivation and creativity, and an overall sense of wellness.
- Bullying and Cyberbullying Basics for Parents: Find strategies your child can use when they witness bullying, and learn what you can do if your child is bullied.
Supplementary handout: Bullying and Cyberbullying Basics for Parents Handout
- Stress and Substance Use: Learn how to use the HALT acronym (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) as a self-care tool to manage stress and substance use.
Supplementary handout: Stress and Substance Use
- Preventing Drug and Opioid Misuse; Preventing Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse; Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use; Preventing Youth Tobacco Use (E-Cigarettes and Vaping); and Preventing Suicide
If you need additional help coping with the pandemic and increased trauma, depression, substance use issues, or suicidal thoughts, please speak with a counselor or medical practitioner or call the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1 or the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.