How to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic
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It’s that time of the year again…
Chain stores are selling school supplies, Disney keeps on repeating High School Musical reruns, and you’re telling your kid to return to sleeping early.
We thought things would be back to normal by now.
The sad reality is Covid-19 cases are still rising, legal battles over masks are ongoing, and many schools cannot afford virtual learning. Since, all of this has had many families feeling worried over the back-to-school season, especially as more schools are returning to in-person teaching.
To ease the stress here is some advice on how families can cope with back-to-school anxiety amid the current pandemic.
Parents, it’s okay to put yourself first
It first begins with the parents.
Being a grown-up comes with a slew of challenges. How parents respond to these challenges varies. Some may flat out ignore their worries while others might seek a distraction, like calling that one 24 Hour AC Service or remodeling the kitchen. Whatever the method is, parents often end up suppressing their emotions in unhealthy ways.
By hiding their emotions, parents might think they’re protecting their children. However, children are very perceptive. According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the study suggests children can pick up on their parent’s suppressed stress, which as a consequence worsens their stress.
In effect, when parents neglect to take care of themselves, it can result in conflicts inside the household. Worse, it can harm their child’s mental health. As many family psychologists recommend, once parents process their emotions, then they can approach their children and help them work through their own feelings.
As such, parents should not be ashamed to first focus on themselves. Trying techniques like planning, therapy, or meditation are great opportunities for parents to process their emotions.
Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is a great way for both kids and parents to get back on track before the school year begins. Routines are healthy stress-management techniques. According to Northwestern Medicine, routines contribute to better mental health, more relaxation time, and less anxiety. While different families experience different living situations, practicing some kind of routine can help families develop some form of structure, especially in a time when things may be feeling chaotic.
Chances are after a year in quarantine, many families’ eating and sleeping patterns have been disarranged. To help your kids transition into the new school year, return to your regular school schedule. That is, try to enforce regular bedtime and wake hours, as well as consistent meal times. When it comes to the dinner table, prioritize healthy meals for the entire family. Eating fruits and veggies is not only good for your nutrition but can also improve your mood.
Once the school year begins, it is always important for children and their parents to practice open communication. As such, ask your children how are they feeling. Are they excited or concerned? To encourage your children, focus on what they’re excited about. Paying attention to the positives instead of the negatives is a nice way to encourage optimism. The same can be said when discussing situations where children initially felt anxious, yet all their concerns turned out well in the end.
If your child is having trouble processing their emotions, a good exercise is to try to name their emotions. Sometimes children have a difficult time trying to understanding what they’re feeling. Putting a name on them, be it if they’re feeling happy, angry, or sad, can help children visualize their emotions, analyze, and process them.