Back to school is an exciting time for kids and families alike! Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic this exciting time has become more anxiety ridden. Transitions are hard for children of all ages, and in the last year and a half our kids have only been in transitions – “mask, no mask, go to school, go to virtual school, etc.” Many families are worried due to the differing opinions out there by schools, parents, state officials and the medical community. Fortunately, there are a few simple things we can all do to manage this challenging time.
Here are some tips and strategies for both children and families to utilize during this back-to-school time and beyond:
- Maintain a schedule, children thrive on predictability and routines provide comfort.
- Help children label the emotions they are feeling and validate those emotions. This is a scary time but help them see the things that are going well. Let them know it is okay to be worried and that you are too, but we need to focus on remaining happy and healthy because that is what we can control.
- Eat well. Eating nutritious foods and making sure treats are available sparingly is important. A healthy body will tolerate stress and anxiety more effectively.
- Be more physically active. Walk with your kids after work or dinner, it is a great way to connect and see what they did all day, and we are getting our steps in!
- Get plenty of sleep. In general kids need more sleep than adults. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep and kids ranging in ages 5 to 13 need around 10 hours of sleep.
- Practice mindfulness (being aware and present by using your 5 senses). Bring your attention to your current surroundings. For example, take time to notice five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste. Write these down to use at a later time if all cannot be done at the present moment.
- Take COVID precautious endorsed by the medical community to remain safe – Wear a face mask when you are outside your home, maintain physical distance between you and others outside your household, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Try to limit the amount of time you spend watching and reading the news related to COVID. Stick to trustworthy sources for updates and rely upon your personal medical doctors for information.
- Reach out to school staff to stay in touch with how they are adjusting the curriculum to the current circumstances.
- For those families who are seeing particular concerns with their children having increasing difficulties with behavioral and academic problems, reach out to the school and/or outside professionals such as psychologists and therapists at Lifestance Health to seek an evaluation for accommodations or suggestions.
- Connect with other parents in your school.
- Stay connected to your friends, family, and your community in a safe manner.
COVID has been difficult for all of us. If there is one thing we have seen during this pandemic thus far, is how flexible our children have been and how they are adapting to their circumstances. We need to keep encouraging this flexibility and reach out to outside professionals if we feel our children are in need of additional support. Call us at 888-428-7890 for an immediate appointment.