A lot of families are in a tough spot this school year. When faced with the decision of whether to send their kids back to school or continue to homeschool them, there isn’t a clear cut answer. Many kids want to go back to school to see their friends and return to a sense of normalcy, but plenty of others are worried about starting school again. Some families are considering alternative schooling options as a means to keep their children safe, relieve their anxiety, and continue their education.
As if starting a new school year wasn’t stressful enough, now they’ll be starting a new school year in the midst of a pandemic. Online learning is challenging and lonely, and in-person learning comes with a lot of new rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These new systems are creating stress and anxiety for students of all ages.
How to help your child overcome back-to-school stress and anxiety
Acknowledge their feelings
Let your child know that you realize that starting school again might be stressful for them. They’ve been going through the pandemic just like everyone else, and it has disrupted their life too. Acknowledge that it was probably hard for them to have their school year canceled last year and that they’ve probably missed seeing their friends.
If your child is anxious about having to try to follow a bunch of new rules, let them know that adults are feeling that way too. Knowing that they’re not alone and that even the adults are trying to learn the new rules lets children know that they’re not alone in the struggle.
As they start to ease back into school life, it won’t be the same as it used to be. While they’re at school, they might feel like they have to put on a front and act like nothing bothers them. If they know that they don’t have to pretend to be fine at home, it can help lower their stress level.
If your child is experiencing severe stress and anxiety or depression related to COVID-19, you might need to look for additional help. A therapeutic boarding school could be the best option for some students. The structure of the school day and the addition of trained counselors are crucial for some students.
On-site therapists provide individual and group counseling specific to Coronavirus anxiety for teens. Many parents find it hard, if not impossible, to help their teens address their Coronavirus-related anxiety. Most parents don’t have the time and the training necessary to devote to their teen’s struggles. Having a trained therapist available each day is a game-changer for many teens.
Review the changes
As the start of the school year gets closer, talk through what your child should expect this year. Removing some of the mystery will help reduce some of their anxiety. Especially for young children, review their new routine with them so that they have time to practice it before their first day back at school.
3 Major Changes:
If your child struggles to wear their mask without constantly messing with it or taking it off, build some practice time into their daily routine. You could have them wear their mask whenever they have screen time throughout the day or while doing another basic daily activity. As they grow more accustomed to wearing the mask, it should stop being as stress-inducing for them.
2. Social Distancing
This school year’s new social distancing restrictions, combined with online learning, can create stress and anxiety for your child since they won’t be able to see their friends like usual. Re-learning how to interact in social situations with the addition of new precautionary measures can be very difficult. Talk through some ways that they can still see and interact with their friends while following the new rules.
3. Sanitization Precautions
For younger children, the school year is often filled with teachers teaching them how to wash their hands correctly and to generally keep their hands to themselves. Once they’re a little older, they don’t expect to be taught such basic concepts again. Going into this school year, however, students are going to be expected to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer more frequently. If you make sanitization practices standard at home, it will be less foreign when they return to school.
Check your own stress levels
Children notice when their parents are stressed out or anxious, and they pick up on that. Keep an eye on your own stress levels and how you’re showing stress and anxiety in front of your kids. That doesn’t mean that you should act like everything is fine all the time. Your kids will likely notice that it’s just an act.
Take care of yourself so that you can help your child through their stress and anxiety. Whenever possible, role model positive coping skills so that your child can see you experiencing stress and addressing it well.
If you notice that your teenage son is struggling especially hard with stress and anxiety about the new school year, you might want to consider a school that specializes in treating teen anxiety. The therapists can help them learn positive coping skills to overcome their anxiety, and the structured atmosphere benefits many students who struggle with anxiety or depression. If you feel you’ve done all you can to help your son battle through the anxiety of the times, but you feel he needs extra help, turn to a school like Sundance Canyon Academy that specializes in helping teen boys with anxiety. You can call and speak with them today about how they’ll be able to help your son.