Back-to-school anxiety is not uncommon even under normal circumstances. As many students head back to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic this fall, many kids and families are feeling especially nervous. It might be challenging to ease your child’s anxiety as you tend to your own worries about sending your kids back to school, but the following strategies can help keep stress down.
Be direct, open, and honest.
You might feel tempted to pacify your child’s anxiety by downplaying the severity of COVID-19, but this may only increase their stress later. Being direct and honest about general safety concerns and your own worries surrounding COVID-19 will help your child better understand their own stress and continue coming to you for support. You might also make a habit of daily check-ins with your child to let them vent frustrations or ask for help navigating tough social situations at school.
Focus on factors your child can control.
Kids may be feeling especially frustrated by new limitations on their actions or anxious about being separated from you after spending so much time at home. These stresses are compounded with the uncertainty of the pandemic itself. You might help them feel more in control by focusing on the actions they can take to be safe and healthy. For example, wearing a mask and washing hands are positive steps your child can take regularly to do their part. You can also encourage them to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise at home, which will be beneficial for both their physical and mental health. Finally, remind them that current conditions won’t last forever, and participating in social distancing practices now will help us get back to normal sooner.
Seek out mental health resources.
Parents often feel social stigma over seeking out mental healthcare for young children and teens. However, seeing a therapist during times of stress and anxiety will only provide a sounder foundation for your child’s future mental health. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a family therapist to help your child manage anxiety during this difficult time.