As the pandemic continues and many students return to face-to-face learning, the New Year will make a lot of changes.
Fort Worth, Texas — Here’s a new school year with big changes. The majority of students in northern Texas will return to school directly. This can lead to stress and anxiety.
Dr. Amanda Jordan, a licensed psychologist from the Cook Children’s Alliance, shared what parents can do to facilitate the transition.
Establish a routine
Many students were effectively learning, which gave them more flexibility in their home schedule.
Jordan says it helps to establish school habits for your child before school begins, such as getting up early, eating breakfast, and regular bedtime habits.
Signs of stress and anxiety
The way anxiety and stress appear in children is different than in adults, Jordan said. Parents need to pay attention to these signs:
- Overreact to emotions
- This is common. For example, when a parent asks a child to do some simple tasks such as cleaning up dishes and the child melts down.
- Toilet accident
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Change in appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Abdominal pain / headache
- Withdrawn behavior
- This is often seen in teens, such as staying in the bedroom
If your child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, there are tools and coping mechanisms that you can use to improve your mood.
- Count up to 10 and take a deep breath
- Jordan says he teaches young children to take deep breaths and have fun, such as “pretend to be blowing bubbles” or “pretend to be blowing out candles on cupcakes.”
- Talk to your teacher or counselor
- Take time to discuss past examples with your child, such as when you feel similar tensions and overcome them.
Take your children to campus and discuss school schedules to help them prepare for the school year. Show them where they will be dropped off in the morning. Going to buy school supplies together will also help them look forward to the year.
Make sure the fun doesn’t stop when school starts and when summer ends. Plan a fun weekend, such as going on a family hike.
Make them comfortable
Check with your student’s school district for COVID safety protocols and policies. Talk to your child about hand hygiene.
Understand your child’s level of comfort in hugging and touching other students, such as high fives and handshakes, to keep them socially distant.
Also ask about the comfort of wearing a mask.
“‘Would you like to wear a mask? Would you like to wear a mask?’ And it’s like assessing their safety,” he said. “And,’OK, do you think it’s more comfortable to wear a mask? That’s perfectly fine, but other kids in the class may choose not to, and that’s fine.’” I will ask.”
She also said that wearing masks to children is an element of mutual respect to teach that everyone has their own choice so far.
After learning from home or long away from normal daily life, some children may experience social anxiety.
Jordan says talking about some of these social situations can help with the use of the “if-then” model.
“For example,’What if no one wants to sit with me at lunch?’ And talking to them as parents,” Jordan said. You can say “and …” and you can approach the table and ask, “Can I sit with you?” Depending on the school and environment, you can sit outside and have lunch and enjoy nature. Think about what that option is and what it looks like. “
Evaluate how your child feels with free-form questions. If your child feels anxious or worried, Jordan says parents can normalize it and let them know that other adults, and even other children, feel the same.
“Even if I’m aware of it myself,’Mom gets nervous when she gets a new position or has to change jobs.’” [it normalizes] That’s it for them. “
- Give them positive feedback
- Create a list of goals for the school year, such as joining a club or making new friends
- Listen to what they are looking forward to
Dr. Jordan shares these parent resources:
Cooking Children’s Behavioral Health: Intake line 682-885-3917
Child Mind Institute and www.childmind.org
Psychology today Find a therapist / counselor in your area at www.psychologytoday.com.
Texas Youth Hotline: At www.dfps.state.tx.us/youth-helpline
You can send phone calls or text messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-989-6884