David Wells will share with Dufferin-Peel parents tips on raising happy children in uncertain times May 4. Photo courtesy David Wells

Speaker to share tips on raising happy kids

By 
  • April 29, 2022

While many are emerging to a sense of normalcy after two years years of dark clouds and closures due to the pandemic, many parents have been left with ongoing concerns for their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

To mask or not mask, whether or not it’s safe to re-introduce extracurriculars as restrictions have loosened in the midst of the sixth wave of COVID, these are just some of the issues parents continue to wrestle with.

To help parents with these decisions, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee is hosting international speaker and author David Wells who on May 4 will share his tips on how to raise happy children and young people in these uncertain times.

For many, the relationship to COVID-19 has shifted from the anxiety around sickness that has marked the past two years to feelings of irritation and frustration, said Wells. The anxiety that persists is centred more around uncertainty for the future, jobs and the wellbeing of families.

The jury is still out on the long-term impact of COVID-19 restrictions, particularly on very young children and adolescents.

“We do have signs amongst our smaller elementary children that something has appeared to change for them,” said Wells, who is based in the United Kingdom and has decades of experience in Catholic education. “We’re going to have to remind them that it’s okay to touch and to get close. There’s some recognition amongst parents that particularly the kindergarten-age children and the teenagers are the groups whose confidence has been hit the hardest. We’ve got three or four-year olds who think they might kill grandma and don’t understand why. We’ve got 15- and 16-year-olds who are a little bit more anxious around their own self-worth and confidence with other people. I think it’s an interesting time.”

Wells will centre his talk around creating space for children and adolescents to feel seen and heard.

Deborah Finegan-Downey, superintendent of special education and learning services for the board, says helping to equip parents with the faith-based wisdom and tools necessary to feel confident parenting has been a top priority.

“As you are aware, our public health officials and the medical community have elevated the importance of children’s mental health and well-being as we navigate through this pandemic,” said Finegan-Downey. “More importantly, our parents and guardians have also been concerned with their children’s well-being.”

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