Author: Hanna Gilley

Mental and emotional resilience takes continuous practice. It’s a commitment to yourself that you will always show up and do the hard work. Being mentally healthy and resilient will allow you to feel more confident, in control, and able to tackle life’s ups and downs.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulty or a tough situation. It’s a skill that takes constant care to develop. It’s a conscious choice to improve your response or reaction to something that was very hard for you to experience. In other words, resilience is the ability to “bounce back.” It sounds like a superpower, but we can all practice resilience with self-awareness and the decision to improve. 

What does resilience look like?

We all have different life experiences, stressors, and issues that we work through on a daily basis. Therefore, a resilient person does not have one specific quality, look or personality trait. It’s all of us. However, there are some characteristics to look for in a mentally healthy and resilient person:

Sense of autonomy: individual autonomy is the notion that you are your own person. You live your life based off your own values, ethics and motivations.
Rational thinking: the ability to consider and analyze facts, opinions and judgements of a situation to determine a reasonable conclusion.
Regulate stress: the use of coping skills to manage daily stresses.
Self-esteem: the attitude you have towards yourself; self-respect, self-worth. 
Sense of optimism: can also relate to one’s happiness and the meaning and purpose they have of their life and life in general.
Good health habits: this includes proper sleep and personal hygiene, nutritious eating and regular exercise.
Sociability/social skills: being sociable with others; the way you communicate and interact with others.
Adaptability: the ability to change and adjust to new situations or experiences.
Altruism: the moral principle of being concerned with the happiness and wellbeing of all other living beings; compassion, love for others.

On the other hand, those that are lacking resiliency may show these traits:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Low immune system or illness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Overreaction to normal stressors
  • Easily upset/depressed or crying
  • Lack of hope

It is not out of reach or impossible to strengthen resilience and our mental health. We all have the natural ability and capacity to grow and improve our quality of life.

Why is it important to be resilient?

To be resilient is to have developed, and continue to develop, a means of self-protection against difficult situations using self-awareness and coping strategies. Also, being resilient will allow you to maintain balance during stressful times and protect us from developing possible mental health issues. It can also offer the following:

  • Improved learning skills, improved memory
  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Reduced risky behavior (excessive drinking, smoking, illicit drugs)
  • A sense of belonging and giving back to community and/or family
  • Experience more positive emotions and better able to regulate emotions

It’s important to note that those practicing resilience are not immune from mental illness or mental health issues. However, when effective coping skills are in place, mental health illnesses or issues can be more manageable.

How can I be more resilient?

There many ways that you can practice resilience and mental strength in your life. We are all our own person with individual thoughts, emotions, and life experiences and so our coping strategies will vary. Here are a few to try:

  • Let yourself feel emotions as they come and go
  • Find a support system that you can trust
  • Lean on self-care strategies; listen to what your body and mind need
  • Find a therapist or professional counselor
  • Maintain a routine of wellness (meditation, eating, exercising, etc.)
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Cultivate a sense of purpose
  • Embrace change and your reactions to it
  • Develop problem solving skills; take action to solve problems as they come
  • Face your fears; this begets self-confidence which will affect your perspective
  • Practice self-compassion; be mindful of the words, thoughts, actions toward yourself
  • Learn to forgive; this allows you to process unfavorable experiences by changing your mindset and relieving yourself of toxic, negative emotions and thoughts.


The uncertainty of the past year and upcoming months may have lead you to feel isolated, lonely, stressed or overwhelmed. Being aware of your mental health and coping strategies now and working towards strengthening them will better prepare you for any challenging times ahead. Remember that it is okay to need and want help. Reaching out to a professional takes courage.






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Our affiliates and staff are the heart of Health Affiliates Maine. Over the last ten years we’ve changed, grown and overcome challenges, because we are—and continue to be—deeply committed to ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Our affiliates and staff are essential not only to HAM, but to individuals and communities all around Maine.

It was our absolute pleasure to host HAM staff in our first official Party in the Parking Lot. While our plans for celebration went through several revisions, this properly distanced, drive thru, dance party was our way of celebrating ten years of Health Affiliates Maine. We absolutely loved surprising you with music, gifts, gratitude and a special individual toast to each and every one of you.

Affiliates and staff, we appreciate all that you do. Thank you. Cheers to ten more years!



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Social media was created for a sense of community—and now, more than ever, we all need interaction with other humans, even if it is over the internet. Through social media, we are able to find like-minded people all over the world and easily interact with them, learn from them, and be friends with them. In fact, 75% of all internet users are on social media. These users are spending 2.5 hours daily on an average of seven different social network accounts. We use social media to connect with friends and family during these (physically) socially distanced times, but is it making us unhappy?

Short answer: yes. Some studies are showing that teens and young adults are reporting higher rates of depression than those who spend less time online, rising from 13-66 percent.1 However, studies are showing a correlation, not a causation between social media usage and our mental health. Because it changes and evolves so quickly, and the history of social media is so short, not enough studies on the topic have been conducted. Therefore, long term scientific effects are not yet known. Below are some effects people have reported from using social media frequently:

Perceived isolation Feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) when we scroll through friend’s accounts. Thinking “Why didn’t they invite me?” when constantly looking at the activities and lives of other people online.

Lowered self-esteem Constantly comparing our lives with those of our friends, celebrities, and influencers with the personas that they display online. “Facebook envy” has been on the rise and is a recognized term by health professionals.

Less healthy activity Not leaving enough time for exercise and outdoor activity. Always having phones at the ready while at the gym, running, or otherwise focused on the activity. Exercise is necessary for both mental and physical health.

Disrupted concentration Attention spans are shorter than ever, and now more than ever we’re completely distracted. We crave the dopamine hit from notifications, “likes,” and comments from our social media apps. This instant gratification is “addicting without being satisfying.”2 according to Dr. Alexandra Hamlet of the Child Mind Institute.

Sleep deprivation The blue light from our device screens discourages melatonin production making it difficult to fall asleep each night. Being anxious, envious or otherwise distracted is also keeping us from getting enough sleep. Proper sleep is critical for mental health.

Making memories Not being present in the moment. Always trying to get the “perfect” photo or looking at the “perfect” photos of others. When we look back on our lives, we should have authentic memories that we can cherish and not forgotten photos and “likes.”

Comparison culture is toxic and pervasive on social media and shows us in real time how we’re keeping up (or not keeping up) with others. We look at celebrity and influencer profiles that have the “perfect” aesthetic and we compare them to our own hair, makeup, physique, vacations, jobs, homes—our entire lives. Jerry Bubrick, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City. He states that “the more we use social media, the less we think about being in the present moment.”3

On the other hand, the human connection aspect of social media makes us feel included, heard and that we belong. Human connection is essential because it encourages compassion and empathy for others which the world needs more of right now. For anyone that finds socializing in-person to be difficult, social media can be that link to human interaction. For instance, those with anxiety disorders, Asperger’s, or physical disabilities rely on social media to feel connected to others.

How can we continue to use social media without harming our mental health? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Designate specific times for social media usage and for non-social media times (e.g. phone-free Fridays)
  • Stay physically active! This helps your body and your brain stay
  • Model behavior for your kids. If the rule is no phones at the dinner table, mean it!
  • Be mindful of how you really feel online. Do certain people, pages, or posts make you feel bad about yourself? Unfollow them
  • Taking a hiatus from social media can help you reconnect with yourself, your family and your
  • Refrain from social media 1-3 hours before your
  • Seek a professional if you’re feeling signs of depression or if you’ve noticed any severe changes in your mood or daily







Sources:,,, Caroline Miller, Does Social Media Cause Depression? New York: Child Mind Institute, 2020

1 Caroline Miller, Does Social Media Cause Depression? New York: Child Mind Institute, 2020

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What are boundaries?

There are two types of boundaries that you should create for yourself: external and internal. External boundaries are guidelines that determine how you allow others to behave towards you. Internal boundaries maintain balance, exhibit self-discipline and allow you to manage your time, thoughts, emotions and behavior. Both types are meant for your protection and well-being and should be based on your values.

Where to implement boundaries

Healthy boundaries should exist in all aspects of your life. Consider the following areas:

Physical: applies to your personal space, privacy and your body. This includes sexual boundaries and determine the what, where, when, how and with whom of sexual activity.
Possessions: determines whether or not you lend or give away personal belongings.
Spiritual: relates to your beliefs and experiences with God, a higher power, nature, etc.
Mental: relates to your thoughts, values and opinions.
Emotional: applies to your emotions, feelings and behaviors.

Do I need boundaries?

Yes, everyone needs boundaries for good mental health. If you’re able to take accountability for your feelings and actions, especially as they relate to other people’s feelings and actions, it’s a sign that you have strong internal boundaries. If you often feel resentment, anger, anxiety or feel taken advantage of it could indicate weak external boundaries and that you’re consistently being pushed past your own limits and values.

In order to set boundaries for yourself, you need to know what they are. These are determined by your core values. Are you unsure of what your values are? Now is the perfect time for self-reflection. Tune into your feelings, your past experiences and how you want to show up in the world. What matters most to you? What are you unwilling to compromise on? Use meditation, prayer, journaling or being in nature to allow for a space of self-awareness. These realizations may not all come immediately. That’s okay—have patience and continue showing up for yourself.

Why set personal boundaries?

Creating, setting and following through with personal boundaries will help maintain your mental health. Boundaries can also help you grow, save your emotional and mental energy, and act as a form of self-care.

How to set boundaries

Making boundaries for yourself can be difficult to do at first, but it shows that you take responsibility for your mental health. Try the following:

  • Look to your core values
  • Follow your instincts
  • Be assertive and consistent
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Communicate clearly
  • Start small
  • Seek support if needed

Being consistent with implementing external and internal boundaries will increase your self-esteem, conserve emotional energy, and create more independence in your life. Once you’ve made boundaries known in your life, it’s natural for people to test them. Don’t falter. We all have different values and boundaries and we all deserve to have them respected. Honor your needs and make yourself the priority.






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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on May 21, 2020, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine 

Question: Our 11-year old daughter overheard my husband and I discussing finances and is asking some tough questions. My husband was furloughed from his job and we don’t know when he will be back. Unemployment is helping but is nowhere near the same amount he was making. There is also uncertainty around my job and I am fearful I could get laid off soon. As it is, my hours are reduced. Obviously, we have been worried and our daughter overheard some of those worries. How do we discuss this in an honest way while keeping her concerns at bay?

Answer: These are indeed tough times and are indeed difficult for so many people. Financial insecurity and uncertainty is an all-consuming problem. You are managing a lot. I truly hope everything with your job and finances improve.

It is very important to know that your daughter is watching you and listening to you always. Just in your day-to-day parenting, you are modeling and teaching your daughter about life—the good and the not so good. Our desire to shelter our children from things which are difficult and uncertain is not always the best plan. Right now, in the loving protection of her family, she can experience adversity while you and your husband show her healthy ways to cope by problem-solving together and maintaining optimism. 

At the same time, certain conversations and differences between parents should be taken out of the view and earshot of their children. Young children are just beginning to make correct judgments and can often misread circumstances. For example, she might one day hear the two of you arguing and mistakenly think you are going to get a divorce. Children also take the blame for discord between parents that they don’t understand. This can be very detrimental to their self-esteem and creates unnecessary anxiety. In those cases when your daughter overhears a difficult discussion, take time to give her reassurance that you are handling it.

I like your desire to want to discuss it with your daughter, in an honest way, while keeping her concerns at bay. Tell your daughter that life is not always easy, and that sometimes there are a lot of problems at once. It’s like when the car is driving on a smooth road and suddenly there are bumps and potholes. These are difficult times, but difficult times often pass and the road smooths out again. Reassure her that you and her father are working together to find ways that will make the situation better. This is a parent problem to solve and you are taking steps to do that.


Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.

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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on June 15, 2020, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine. 

Question:  My 19-year-old just finished his first year in college–remotely most of this last semester, of course. He suffers from depression and anxiety and the change in being back home, schooling remotely (with dropping grades), and not seeing his friends regularly has his depression and anxiety creeping up. He pulls a lot of all-nighters and insists it’s the only way to stay connected to friends after the “school day.” I don’t think the lack of sleep helps. Since he is officially an adult, I don’t feel like I have a lot of say. How can I approach him in a place of love and help?

Answer:  You are asking how to share your concern, and maybe guidance, without resistance on the part of your son. You answered your question yourself; you approach him from a place of love and help. At 19 he still needs your caring influence. It sounds like he needs it now more than ever. In my view, our kids never stop needing us, it is just the way they need us that grows and changes. Whenever any of our loved ones suffer from an episode of mental or emotional distress, it is a signal that help may be needed, no matter what age. Decisions or lack of decisions they make for themselves may not be in their best interest. There are times we may have to temporarily step in, in a more assertive way, to make decisions for them. Keeping them safe is the primary concern.

Here are some things to try to open him up so he can hear what you are saying.

Schedule the discussion:  “I would like to set aside some time later this afternoon to talk about all the challenges you are faced with right now.” It is like a road sign that says “Rest stop ahead”. It helps lay the groundwork for him to hear what you have to say. 

Recognize his discomfort:  “I have realized that you are not yourself lately, and who could blame you, with things being awful right now.” He probably can’t argue with that.

Share your feelings:  “I feel really concerned when I see your depression and anxiety creeping up. It is very apparent. I know it must be hard for you. I would feel happier if we could talk about a plan so you can start feeling better.” This will change the focus to you, which might be more comfortable for him.

Do your homework:  Have some reputable sites available to refer to regarding the discussion of anxiety and depression. Ask him to agree to also visit these sites on his own. You are right about the lack of sleep. One of the first things addressed in the treatment of depression is clearing up the sleep issue.

Be prepared to get help.  If your son has been treated before for the issues with depression and anxiety, it is definitely time for a check-up. Connecting with a counselor may be a key in helping him face the uncertainty and make decisions. At this age, it is good to encourage him to solve this with a counselor, which fits better in his developmental task of growing independent of you.

Allow him to choose:  If you can get him to agree to get counseling assistance, have him read about individual counselors on agency websites or on the Psychology Today website. He should pick one that feels like a good fit. Many counselors provide telehealth services and/or in-person sessions.

Don’t hesitate to get help: There are rare occasions when a loved one is so depressed or ill that they are a threat to themselves or someone else. In these serious times, you might need to make tough decisions about getting help for your loved one without their consent, by taking them to the emergency department or by calling 911 for assistance. Know that they will be angry, but after getting help are most often understanding of your action. 

These uncertain times are tough on us all, but especially for young high school graduates and college students.  Your son is fortunate to have a parent like you looking out for him.

Note to parents:  Students in their first year of college sometimes struggle with adapting. Leaving home for college is a transitional leap for which some students are unprepared emotionally.  Living away from home, having a roommate, experimenting with substance use, and the independent learning expectations can be overwhelming for some. A year back home, with counseling help, and perhaps a job can be all they need to successfully try again.

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine. 


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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on May 21, 2020, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Question:  Phew. I am having a hard enough time getting through remote schooling with my kids these past months and now I am hearing concerns that kids may not be back in school this fall or, if they are, they will be wearing masks, distancing, and maybe even going only a few days a week. My kids want to be back to school in the fall. They are hearing the rumors too. They are asking questions. How do I address these with them–not knowing what the new school year will bring? I don’t want to say they will be back when they may not be. I also don’t want to have them fearing the worst all summer. What’s the best way to approach this uncertainty?

Answer: Although our children think we do, we do not have any control over what will happen in the future. We cannot make it all better or promise that life will return to normal. Uncertainty is hard for all of us. Take heart.  Although this is a very difficult experience, there are real-life lessons here for all of our kids, which will serve them well throughout adulthood. Remember the saying, “It is not the number of times you get knocked down that is important, it the number of times you get back up.”  Life is full of uncertainty and change. Helping your kids learn to accept this with grace (as much as that is possible in children) is so important.  

Here is what might help: 

Offer HOPE: Let your kids know that it is the job of the schools, communities and our government to figure out how to get the students back to school safely. Many people are working on it. It may look different, but a plan will be made. They will soon know what it will look like, and together you will all work on making it work.

Offer VALIDATION: We know that being with friends is a really important part of school. Acknowledge for them that you understand it is hard not to know, and that it is also hard for you. Encourage them to talk about their fears and worries. Talk about this together. This is a way to validate what they are feeling and that you are hearing them, you understand and are feeling it, too. This amazingly lightens the mood.

REFRAME: If you can, reframe the way they, and you, are thinking about this. They are experiencing something extraordinary right now. We are all learning more about science, technology, our interconnectedness and our own ability to be resilient. Because of this pandemic, they are going to be part of a generation that takes big leaps forward in their ability to problem-solve and adapt. As horrible as this virus has been, we have learned so much about ourselves. Encourage them to think about what they are missing and why is it important to them. It can offer a new appreciation.

REDIRECT: Encourage them to take another path in action and thinking. When the worries start to take over, have them focus just on today—what can make today a good day, like building a fairy house or making things from found objects, for example. Check out websites for these kinds of activities together. Foster their compassion. Focusing on the needs of others and getting out of our own heads is the best way to feel better (packing boxes at a food bank, walking the neighbor’s dog, saving the Earth by picking up litter or planting a tree, or reaching out to Facetime with a grandparent).

Try this “formula” I have given you (hope, validation, reframe, and redirect). Hopefully, you will soon have clearer answers to give. Try this on yourself, too. 

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.

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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on May 14th, 2020 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote brings me comfort when I am restless and sleepless over my worries. You can think of it anytime your mind is troubled before sleep; it might be especially helpful now. We have lots to be concerned about, as we are now weeks into the Coronavirus shutdown, with uncertain ends in sight. We worry about our loved ones, our country, our businesses and jobs, finances, and daily food. Some parents are suddenly in the role of schoolteachers to their children, on top of their many other work and home responsibilities. Even when experiencing a job loss at this time, some have had to spend many hours of navigating to access benefits—a job in itself!  

It is important to understand that worries and anxiety are about the future “what ifs.” Learning to sort out which of your thoughts really deserve your attention and which are simply creating more anxiety, staying in the moment, addressing those things that are right in front of you–helps keep worries manageable.  

Here are the lessons found in Emerson’s quote:

1.  Finish each day and be done with it.

Reliving it doesn’t change anything. Berating yourself over things done, and not done, is useless spinning. Allow yourself to close the book on today and stop reviewing the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moments, or the things you cannot control. In the morning, they will not seem as bad.  

2.  You have done what you could.

Celebrate your full day, as weird and uncommon it may seem, and the things you were able to do, big and small. Try to remember a moment from the beginning of the day. You managed, and you got through it.  Perhaps your day had some moments of fun. Perhaps you reassured your child, reached out to a friend, or cooked a good dinner–good for you. Perhaps you shuffled the kids outside, and took a moment for yourself—good for you. Right now it is about putting one foot in front of the other and navigating what changes come—one day at a time. Today, you have done what you could.  

3.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can.

We are not perfect. We make mistakes, forget things, get tired or even angry. Give yourself permission to have a moment, or many moments of struggle. Some days run smoothly, others are just, well, not smooth. It is human to have to keep trying, and right now there is a lot being asked of you. If you are trying under these unusual circumstances, then you are doing the best you can. So try not to be the first one to cast judgment on yourself. 

4.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Thank goodness for that! We get a new chance every day. This virus will end or at least we will find a way to manage it. The world will keep spinning and there will be many new days.

5.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered by your old nonsense.  

That’s the pledge. After sleep, the worries that keep us up can seem trivial in the morning light. Living in these strange conditions created by the virus has given us gifts and lessons in the midst of our concerns. So tomorrow, you will wake up anew, ready to embrace what may be a really great adventure in life.

Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.

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Studies have shown that a daily routine alleviates feelings of stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. It’s also proven beneficial for those working through addiction, insomnia, and helps give structure to children who may otherwise experience anxiety. Though our daily lives have been upended in recent weeks, this can be a powerful time to establish our priorities through routine.

Here are some reasons why and how routine can enhance your mental wellbeing, as well as some examples to try in your own life.

Ease stress: With so many decisions to be made each day, it can become overwhelming quickly. Having the majority of daily decisions planned in advance can lessen stress. It’s okay to start small with one decision and work up to planning more. Try: Put together your outfit the night before or pack tonight’s leftover dinner as an ready-to-grab lunch for tomorrow.

Provide structure: Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from structure. Even as adults, we perform better when we expect predictable and controllable moments. When our day has a rhythm, we feel grounded and focused. Try: Write down all the things that you need to do during your day. Once these priorities are met, sprinkle in what you want to do.

Better coping skills: When most of our daily tasks are repetitive and expected, it gives us the confidence to make it through our day. This will help to establish better coping skills for life’s curveballs. Try: Allow yourself time each day to process your emotions. Write in a journal, meditate, or express your feelings creatively.  

Forms habits: It takes 21 days to form a habit—why not use a routine as practice? The more consistent you are, the better established your routine will become. Try: Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. A proper sleep schedule reduces stress, anxiety and gives you the energy to power through your day.


Your routine should represent your lifestyle and meet your responsibilities. This means that if waking up at 4am is impossible for you, don’t make yourself do it. Set yourself up for success! With this being said, a daily routine should never feel like a prison. Leave room for flexibility and the opportunity to adapt to life’s changes.

We all rely on each other for support and encouragement. If you are experiencing severe stress or are having difficulty performing day-to-day tasks reach out to a loved one or professional.


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This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on April 27th, 2020 by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine

We don’t like things that are not clear and understandable. We don’t like feeling uncertain and lacking control; uncertainty can lead to feelings of insecurity. In the best of times, parenting is about helping kids feel secure, so they grow up hopeful and happy. This is tough to do when parents themselves are struggling during this time.

Although we all are troubled by living with the virus threat, parents and caregivers have the important job of helping their children and teens understand and follow the current health restrictions, while keeping them hopeful and secure.

Some parents recently shared with me how they have tried to help their children deal with the changes caused by the Coronavirus restrictions. Their comments may be helpful to you:

Explain the Coronavirus in age-appropriate ways. For young ones, answer what is asked. Don’t supply more information than they need. Limit their exposure to media coverage. They will be curious and need to process it in pieces. One grandmother, a social worker, assured, “Don’t be alarmed if their play includes the virus. This is normal and a good way for you to identify their concerns.”

Welcome the expression of emotion. Expressing emotion is healthy at any age. If it is safe to do so, don’t try to quiet it, squash it or make it better. Let it come out in a variety of ways. There is time to talk it over after the expressing is done. Sometimes we rush to “fix it” but really we just need to listen. When it was announced the school would not reopen, one mom of a high school senior watched her daughter grieve the loss of her senior year activities—prom, graduation and such. Her daughter wrote a 3-page paper called “Senior Year Ruined” she sent it to her English teacher, who then reached out to talk with her. This expressing of how she felt ended up helping both him and her. This daughter is also learning to bake, and decorated her cake creation with “R.I.P. (Rest in Peace) Senior Year.”

Try to have a routine. A regular school day runs on routine. Children get comfortable with this. Establish a schedule that your child can follow at least on weekdays. One mom who has a high school junior says, “We set up a daily schedule. Each day is a different subject for at least 1 hour, she completes that first, and then 1 hour of something educational but fun. She also has every other day for either practicing dancing or Girl Scout “homework”.

Let kids participate in the planning of the day. This may limit battles over assignments that they resist and gives them some power. Remember, having some control helps kids feel secure.

Knowing what to expect also helps kids feel secure. Another mom said, “Setting-up projects the night before is really important to support the kids with knowing what is expected, and to assist with the day flowing, especially since I’m working from home.” She also found it is important to “keep the routine when co-parenting with kids going back and forth between two homes. When possible, mirror what is happening in both homes.”

Acknowledge the ‘now’ and focus on the future. A mom of a 16-year-old said that “cancellations of outdoor events have been a challenge to explain”—her son likes helping in the pit crew at races, and it is an important activity for him. “We simply talk with him, and acknowledge all of the feelings he has around it. We then talk about plans once the quarantine is lifted.” Another grandmother has a “post-virus bucket list” full of all the things the family will do when the cautions are lifted.

Security for your kids comes from some consistent routines, allowing the normal and healthy expression of emotions, giving them some power to make decisions, a positive future focus, and above all else, love. We are all in this together. We will find our way.


Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children, and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website and click on “Referrals.” 

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