We’ve made the hard decision to send our kids back to school this fall. But they’re feeling really worried about it; do you have any ideas for how we can help them?
I can certainly understand why your children would be nervous (and you as well!). Our lives over the past five months have been upturned and dominated by the threat of COVID-19, and now we’re telling them they are going back to school. Here are some strategies you can use to help everyone in the family decrease their anxiety and manage it when you can’t decrease it.
DON’T ADD TO THEIR WORRY
If we don’t want our kids to feel more worried than they already are, we need to hide from them our own frustration and anxiety about the school situation. Children are emotional sponges and will absorb whatever anxiety you are expressing. Try not to talk about your fears in front of them. Talk to your partner or a friend instead.
BE REALISTIC BUT POSITIVE
I am telling my daughter, “It’s really great news that the COVID numbers are down. This means it’s safer to be back in school than it was in the spring. We also know a lot more about how the disease is transmitted now. At the same time, there is risk. Life always has some risk and uncertainty. Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out.” Anxiety is the feeling that you won’t be able to cope with the scary thing. What you want to cultivate is the attitude that this is hard but we can handle it.
Also, parents need to understand that it’s okay to worry about making the wrong choice. Since none of us have a crystal ball, it’s important to remember that we are making the best decision we can with the information we have and considering the needs of our families. One thing I try to remind myself when I’m feeling stressed about our current situation is that our kids are resilient and so are we. We can handle this.
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Sarah Rosensweet is a peaceful parenting coach and parenting advice columnist for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 13, 16, and 19). Sarah teaches parents a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Enjoy your kids again! Find her at sarahrosensweet.com