How to bust the back-to-school stress during Covid.
Back to school this year is like no other. On top of familiar concerns about kids fitting in, liking their teachers, and getting good grades, the Covid-19 pandemic is bringing a scary new set of stressors. How do parents and children both thrive amid all the uncertainty?
Establishing healthy routines is a powerful stress buster for your family. They offer the comfort of knowing what to expect next, amid a world that has become so unsettled. Children thrive with routines. In addition to setting out bedtimes, chores and screen times, this fall’s schedule could include washing hands and masks after coming home.
For added familiarity, consider retaining some of the rituals that became part of staying home, such as family walks or group cooking nights. Returning to school will likely provoke some anxiety for all of you, and family bonding times ensure there is a casual chance to talk about what’s going on and help each other to do their best.
You might try creating a weekly plan of activities and meals, posting it in the kitchen to give everyone an idea of what to expect. Planning this together offers feelings of contribution and control, which can be essential in this stressful situation.
Parents can alleviate a child’s concerns by assuring them there’s a plan in place to keep them safe. Kids take their emotional cues from you so it’s important to project confidence in your school’s health leadership.
If you are feeling uncertain about sending your child to school, talk with the teachers and administrators to clearly understand what procedures are planned for everyone’s protection. This knowledge can be a powerful stress buster for you as a parent.
Watch for self soothing behaviours that are a sign of anxiety; or a phantom illness designed to avoid school altogether. Get help from your doctor, faith leader, or a counselor if these become too much for you to manage on top of your personal stressors. You also deserve support.
Especially with very young children, you might also rehearse important health behaviours such as how to keep their mask clean and the importance of not trading it with other children. With teenagers, perhaps emphasize the value of being in school with their friends instead of staying home alone.
The important thing is to communicate. Sharing concerns and fears bonds you together in the face of the challenges ahead. Support your child through any struggles, encouraging resilience to develop new life skills and increased confidence in their ability to face life challenges.