This back to school season is different than any other. Whether you’re a student, or a parent who’s sending their children back-to-school, the return to in person classes can be a huge anxiety trigger. Kids and parents are being separated after being stuck at home together for a year; a perfect recipe for separation anxiety. Kids may have gotten used to the home environment and created a safe space there. Also, following all the new mask mandates and social distancing rules can cause confusion and fear in some children. All of these worries are realistic and can make children think that other people/places are not as safe as their families/homes. Parents have an especially difficult task of having to encourage their kids to have fun while also making sure they stay safe. Just like everything else you have had to tackle, this too is achievable. Here are some pointers to help the child/parent duo as back-to- school season approaches:
Validate their feelings
Kids may become clingy or scared to be separated from you...the most important thing is to stay calm, stay positive, and allow them space to express how they are feeling. Don’t feed into their worries, help them think of a solution to making them feel more secure.
Set the tone
Try not to ask leading questions that can influence them to feel one way or another. Show them that it will all be alright, do NOT show them your own anxiety. Kids appreciate knowing what you’re doing to manage the situation and also what they can do to feel more at ease. Help them think positive.
Have a routine
Routines can make children feel more secure. Create a routine that you practice for a few days leading up to the first day of school. This will help them when it comes down to the real thing. Within this routine try to incorporate some sort of separation so that the child can get used to that feeling.
Create a safe space for yourself
Parents, this can all be very draining. Make sure you take time out of the day to sit with your feelings and practice self-care. This can look like meditation, going to therapy, getting lunch with a loved one, spending time outside, or all of the above!