Returning to school may be challenging for parents and children alike. The pandemic is still not over and many children, teens and parents have concerns about staying safe once school starts. Moreover, we are not sure what to expect as far as new rules in the school and changes to their normal school routines.   Though we cannot predict what will happen, it will be helpful to keep your child’s a home routine as normal as possible. Children may find it difficult to adjust back to their school routines after such a long break – parents may too. Here are some helpful tips to address their concerns and any possible behavioral issues:  

1. Be calm and comforting while communicating with your child.

It’s important to monitor your tone and facial expression. More than anything your child will be able to tell how your feel about these changes from these cues. If you seem worried it will only serve to heighten their anxiety. Make sure your facial expression and body positioning is relaxed; get down on your child’s level and offer comforting words.

2. Listen and Validate Feelings.

This change is going to cause a range of emotions for kids some may be excited, happy, sad, scared, angry, worried or frustrated. Whatever the emotion, let your child now you understand where they are coming from. Take into account what they may be feeling and try to see the situation from their point of view. “ I understand you are frustrated you cannot sit next to your friends at lunch that is hard and I know you have been excited to go back to school so you can spend more time with them.”   “I know understand you are worried about seeing your friends again when you have not seen them in so long. I know the first day will be hard but you are such a (funny/sweet/caring) boy/girl and I know you will reconnect with them again. Everyone has been away from their friends for a while and is probably feeling just like you.”

3. Set Limits and Boundaries.

Help your child to see the bigger picture and help them to find solutions to their concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to have big feelings but some behaviors are just not acceptable. Be sure to remain, calm, clear and assertive in limit setting.   “I know it is difficult to wake up so early again when you are so used to sleeping in late. We have to go back to school though. What can we do to make your morning routine easier for you?”   “I know you are used to staying on Xbox late but we have to get back into school routine. The Xbox needs to go off by 8 o ‘clock.”   “I see that you are upset but it is not okay to hit/bite/yell”  

What to Look Out For:

Covid-19 was a big adjustment for our kids and going back to school will be another big adjustment. Some children have a harder time expressing or stating their feelings and may display some of the following behaviors:     All of the above are normal reactions to stress. If your child is experiencing these symptoms it may be helpful to contact your school social worker, guidance counselor or find a local therapist to help them learn to cope with their stessors.   To get an idea of what changes may take place to your child’s school routine please check out CDC guidelines at the following link: With all the changes resulting form Covid-19, and continued uncertainty in the US, both parents and children are experiencing a variety of emotions. It is important to provide a space for your child to explore and discuss how they are feeling. By doing so, we can help them find solutions to problems they are anticipating and help them regulate their emotions.  

Listen for and acknowledge how your child is feeling.

By listening and looking for cues from our kids in what they are experiencing it gives us a starting point to say “hey are you frustrated/sad/worried/annoyed that school is starting up again?” Acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude will go a long way in getting your kid to not only share how they are feeling but to continue to open up about their concerns as time goes on. Monitor your body-language, tone of voice and facial expressions to ensure you are coming across as accepting, caring and non-judgmental. More important then what we say is how we say it. Kids pick up on those non-verbal cues, just like we do.  

Validate and normalize their perspective and experience.

Put yourself in their shoes and empathize with what they are going through. For example: “ I understand you are scared to see your friends again, I was nervous when I had to go back to work too.” “You feel worried about returning to school. It has been a lot of changes this month and you do not know what to expect.” “I can see you are super excited to go back to school and see all your friends!” “It’s hard adjusting to early wake-up times again, I hate mornings too. What are some things you are looking forward to in school that you missed?”  

Be curious about what this experience means to them.

If you are not sure how your child is feeling or what they may be thinking some curious questions may help you to gauge where they are at. Examples include: “How are you feeling about going to back school?” “I wonder if you may be feeling nervous about going back to school?” “What are you looking forward to most about going back to school?” “Are you concerned about changes to your school routine?  

Be encouraging and foster hope.

If your child is experiencing not-so-pleasant emotions try to help them problem solve, plan or find the silver lining. “I know you may be worried about taking the bus again, maybe we can see if you can sit with (the neighbor, your sibling, etc)” “I know this transition is really tough but it should be nice to see your friends again/get back into the classroom”  

Check-in after the school day is over.

This transition may be difficult for kids that were not expecting it to be difficult. Those that went in excited may feel disheartened by restrictions, those who were anxious may be more anxious because everyone was wearing masks.  Check in with your child to see what they are experiencing.  Examples include: “How was your day today?” “What was it like seeing friends again?” “What did you learn today?” “What did you like about today?” “Is anything worrying you?”

Seek additional support if needed. 

As always, if you need more support contact your school social worker, guidance counselor or contact a local therapist.
usercrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram