Speaking to Your Child About School Adjustment Post-Covid

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:  
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits, sleeping/eating less or more than their usual
  • Isolating or withdrawing to their room
  • Difficulty concentrating or “zoning out”
  • Difficulty separating form their caregiver or becoming “clingy”
  • Fidgeting and restlessness
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • School refusal
  • Physical complaints such as stomach aches, headaches or feeling dizzy
  • Looking for reassurance or asking a lot of questions
  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: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

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