Gone are the days when going back to school used to be very exciting; now, things feel weird and different due to the pandemic.
I bet we can still remember the times when we cram shopping for new school supplies or looking for old ones; searching for activities that would help our kids deal with the worries and excitement they feel.
Now, research suggests that the level of stress and anxiety felt by both parents and children have become higher than before. Factors, such as shifting and heated information about the entire process, highly affects everyone.
Not only that, both the kids and parents are worried about the health protocols and the risk of contracting and spreading the virus at school.
As a parent, we play a huge role in helping our child overcome stress and anxiety. It’s not an easy task considering that there are tons of things to worry about other than going back to school and COVID 19.
However, I believe that there are still ways on how to lower the level of your child’s stress and anxiety with our kids back to school 2021.
Initiate Opening Discussions
There’s a saying that goes like this: “what you resist, persists.”
It only means that the more parents and kids avoid talking about an important matter, the more the feeling of anxiety persists. That being said, it’s crucial for parents and kids to have an honest and open discussion about COVID 19 and its relation to going back to school.
Personalize each conversation, considering your kid’s age and level of maturity.
For instance, if your child is around 6 to 9 years old, talk about how different this school year may be. The school might require them to wear masks and some school activities might be canceled to protect themselves and the others from the virus.
For parents with older children, you can talk about expectations, including if there’s anything they’re looking forward to or worried about.
You could also discuss safety measures, such as frequently washing the hands, avoiding touching the face, and maintaining a safe distance from other people. The key is focusing on things we can control, such as our actions outside our home, rather than the things that we can’t.
Name It To Tame It
Doctors often use a strategy called “name-it-to-tame-it” to help kids and even adults overcome their fears.
For instance, we can assign a name to our child’s anxiety or worry like Worry Bubu or anything. As for young adults or teens, we can simply name their emotion as anxiety. The goal is to label their fear so they understand what they are feeling or dealing about.
As for parents, this helps us have a reference in the future in case a similar emotion appears and at the same time, gives us the chance to provide the emotional and mental support they need during these tough times.
It would also help if we can provide full attention to our kids when they are talking. Validate your child’s emotion and show that you understand what they are feeling by providing possible reasons that contribute to their fear or anxiety.
For things you can control, you can work on the possible solutions you can use to resolve the problem. Encourage your kid to try the solution in real life; if it works, then good but if not, you can always find new solutions to put into test.
Become Your Child’s Role Model
I know, all the pressure is in you. Despite what’s happening, you have to stay calm and choose to be kind all the time (or at least most of it).
However, I want you to know that it’s normal to feel worried or uncertain. You are not alone and we understand how hard it is to hold it in.
But then, you are your child’s role model so as much as possible, it’s important to stay calm and confident about your kid’s return to school during COVID.
Use kind and positive words when saying goodbye and provide as much empathy as you can whenever your kid feels anxious or having tantrums.
The thing is, kids usually pick up their parent’s worried tone or expression or other cues no matter how subtle we think it is.
That being said, it’s important for us, as parents, to take care of our mental and overall well-being, too. Seek professional help if you must and find ways on how you can pamper yourself at home, too.
After all, we can’t give what we don’t have.
With kids back to school 2021 becoming a challenge, it makes sense to prepare ourselves and our kids. Create a warm and safe space to encourage our children to open up, validate their feelings, and find ways on how to address the things we can control.
Sooner or later, we can deal with the new normal’s back-to-school transition with less anxiety while developing skills we can use as we go along with life.