Our kids have been through so much in the past 18 months; first being yanked from school, their teachers, and their classmates, then sheltered at home, worrying about a pandemic they didn’t understand, and now sent back to school with the coronavirus still raging.
Studies have shown that levels of anxiety and depression, especially among teens, have soared since the onset of the pandemic. Drug use and suicide rates have skyrocketed, largely attributed to the social isolation kids have experienced in isolation.
And yet, many parents are finding their children are apprehensive about returning to the classroom. The issues they’re facing are myriad:
- They’re concerned about whether they fell behind academically last year.
- They have social anxiety from being out of practice with one-on-one or face-to-face interactions.
- Some of them have lost family members or friends to the virus and are still grieving.
- Because of the back-and-forth on masking and the vaccines, they may be concerned they’ll become sick themselves if they’re no longer socially distanced.
How to help
You can help make your child’s transition back to school easier.
First, listen. Encourage them to talk about any anxieties or concerns they may have.
Then, offer information. Research the latest information about the coronavirus and how they can protect themselves. Attend school board meetings and talk to their teachers and other parents so you’ll know what’s going on in their school.
Next, help them focus on what they can control. If they can’t think of solutions on their own, brainstorm with them.
Finally, provide healthy outlets for their anxiety.
- Provide structure, keep to a schedule as much as possible, and have regular meals as a family. Use that time to talk and share ideas. Our Family Table Time kits are an excellent resource for this.
- Make sure they get enough exercise, especially outdoors. Take family walks in the evenings.
- Urge them to take classes in yoga, tai chi, or mindfulness meditation.
- Encourage them to participate in informal sports with their friends or structured sports at school.
If you find that all this isn’t enough and you’re still seeing signs of anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.