Going back to school in September can be anxiety-provoking for children and youth. A new grade, new friends, a new teacher, and possibly a new school is exciting, but that amount of change and anticipation can be scary. Add in the uncertainty of the coming school year this September with the COVID-19 pandemic, and many youth, teachers and parents alike may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety.
Here are four tips to helping your child through the anxiety that comes with COVID back to school planning.
1) Listen and Validate – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, regardless of age. Even if your child isn’t telling you they’re experiencing anxiety about potentially returning to school, that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling uneasy. Sit down and have a conversation with them about how they’re feeling. Validate their concerns and answer any questions they have to the best of your abilities.
2) Reassure, but Don’t be Unrealistic – There is a difference between addressing your youth’s valid concerns with telling them, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine,” and telling them “It’s alright to worry, but teachers and schools are going to put practices in place to keep you safe.” Telling them not to worry can feel minimizing of their feelings and experience. Validating them can open up a broader conversation about the importance of mask wearing, social distancing and proper hand washing at school.
3) Acknowledge and Celebrate Small Victories - No one knows what September will look like yet. Students may continue their classes online, they may return to school, or there may be a gradual shift from one to the other. If your child is struggling with anxiety about returning to school, set up baby steps together, and celebrate those accomplishments. If they have to start with half days and work their way up, have that conversation and work towards those goals.
4) Take Care of Yourself – As important as it is to be there for our children, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of them. Be sure to practice self-care. Take some time for yourself to unwind if you can, eat well, exercise and stay on top of your feelings of anxiety as well, maybe by journaling or talking with your partner or a friend. Know your limits and know that it’s alright for you to have them.
In this stressful time, supporting ourselves, each other, and our children will help make the transition to the new school year, whatever that looks like, easier for everyone. If you need extra support Front Door would be happy to assist you (519) 749-2932.