Children returning to school face one unique challenge: anxiety about being separated from their families after months of being together.
It may cause separation anxiety in some children and the anxiety they may feel about leaving their safe haven from the pandemic.
“Kids are just really used to being at home with their parents now,” said Dr Jennifer Louie, a clinical psychologist.
Even children who had become accustomed to being in school prior to the pandemic are finding it difficult to be separated. There is also the added fear that other people are not as safe as we thought they were.
When children go out now, they are frequently reminded not to get too close to other people, wear masks, use sanitiser, and wash their hands.
There's a lot of anxiety in the air, and we think kids sense it. Your child may be wondering, "Are we sure it's safe to return?" And how about the rest of the people? Is it okay to touch this?"
Many parents have been seeing some clinginess in younger kids, or even nine- or ten-year-olds. Kids say things like, 'I don't want to go back to school,' or 'I don't want to be separated from you."
For some children, the excitement of returning to school after being cooped up at home for so long will outweigh any potential anxiety. However, kids who already feel pressure are more likely to be anxious when they return.
So parents face a difficult task in dealing with all of this anxiety and uncertainty: assuring your kids that it is safe to be away from them while also encouraging caution, and preparing them to be flexible in the event that the situation changes.
How can you help your child?
Here are our three golden tips:
1. Lead by example
Show your kids that it is okay to go back to school and show them how to protect themselves- if they don't know by now. You will only fuel anxiety if you lead with your own anxiety.
2. Validate their emotion
It's concerning when children are clingy or fearful of being separated from you, but parents must remain calm and optimistic.
Keep encouraging your child, and don't dismiss their fear; rather, have a conversation about what they can do if they feel unsafe or scared.
3. Step by step separation
For children who are anxious about being separated, our experts recommend practising separation, beginning with small steps and gradually increasing tolerance for more and more independence.
Last Thought of Encouragement
Times are challenging but adjustable.
Encourage your children to interact with their peers and teachers, encourage them to continue sports and encourage them to do anything they dream of.
This article was written by our Native English Teacher, Miss Ilse.