Many kids and teens haven’t been inside a school building since early March 2020 – and while some can’t wait to return to full in-person classes, others would just as soon stay home. For these students, remote learning was a break from social pressures, certain learning challenges, or other classroom stressors. This Fall, parents have a complicated mission dealing with all this anxiety and uncertainty: reassuring children that it’s safe to be away from them, while also encouraging them to be careful and preparing them to be flexible in case the situation changes.
How do you do that? Here are some pointers.
Set the tone
- Remember you as the parent lead the way. If you lead with your own anxiety, you’re only going to fuel anxiety
- act calm even when you are not.
- Reach out to your child’s school if you have your own concerns.
- If children have questions you can’t answer, say, “That’s a really good question. I am not sure, and I can find out the answer.”
- Encourage your child to think about positive reasons about returning to in class learning.
Validate their feelings
- It’s worrisome when your child is clingy or fearful about separating from you
- If your child is telling you that they’re worried or having those negative feelings, you want to validate that and let them have some space to express that.
- Encourage your child to talk about his or he emotions.
- Remind your child they can always speak with their teacher or a guidance counsellor at school about their concerns and feelings.
- Do not ask leading questions such as are you worried about returning to school
- After being at home for over 18 months, some children are more anxious or worried about being separated from their parents
- Practicing separation, starting in small ways and building your child’s tolerance for more and more independence. For example, staying with another caregiver getting used to going back to daycare, or doing playdates
- Start bringing them out of the house more often with trips into the grocery store with you, arranging playdates, or planning morning activities that force an earlier wakeup time.
- Since there is a possibility that in person school may switch back to remote learning, , it’s helpful for kids to know that you’re prepared for changes that may occur.
- Remind your child that there may be changes to their regular school routine and that’s OK. We will all adjust if this needs to happen
- You can say, ‘My guess is that things might change between now and the end of the year. And as soon as I find out I will let you know.”
When should you get help?
- Out right refusal to attend school
- severe meltdowns at drop-off time for more than two weeks
- Severe clinginess
- Daily tummy aches, feeling sick or unexplainable headaches
- Poor school performance
- Getting into trouble at school