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How To Handle The Transition Back To School Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

For many parents, the anticipation of September’s arrival may already feel overwhelming. As we continue to debate the best course of action for our children and families, we are also forced to deal with the raw emotion associated with this uncertainty.

The decisions that lie ahead are daunting – How will schools restructure the academic year? Do I even feel comfortable sending my child back? How am I going to juggle the endless responsibilities and everchanging schedules?

It is no surprise that this moment in time may leave you feeling vulnerable to intense feelings of anger, frustration, fear and confusion.

But as parents, we must remember one thing – it is up to us to establish a sense of stability and security for our children as they navigate this unfamiliar territory.

The truth is, our children will look to our emotional responses to help them better interpret and react to ambiguous situations. 

So if we allow ourselves to impulsively play into that raw emotion we are experiencing, it may signal to our children that what lies ahead is cause for concern. In turn, they may begin to internalize this fear and exhibit more apprehensive and anxious behaviors as they transition back to school.

What Should I Do?

It can be very difficult to communicate a sense of calm when you are struggling to overcome your own anxieties. However, it is imperative that as the parent, you take the time to focus on your own self awareness – working to gain greater insight into your thoughts and emotions during times of vulnerability.

When you are engaging in conversation with others regarding the topic, or listening in to new information being presented, try your best to do so in a private setting so that you are afforded an opportunity to process your initial reactions away from the observant eyes and ears of your children.

If possible, do your best to wait until you have definitive answers regarding the school year before you present your child with any information. This may include waiting until your school district has established a plan, taking the time to privately discuss all options with your partner, and then working together to decide on the best course of action for your family.

When discussing the plan with your child, do your best to highlight the positives as well as the reasons that brought you to your decision. Take the time to listen to your child’s response – empathize with what it is they are experiencing while normalizing the adverse emotions that occur during times of uncertainty.

If your child raises concerns regarding specific issues such as socialization, virtual learning difficulties, etc, hear them out. Then work together to begin finding alternative solutions. Not only will this ensure that your child feels heard and understood, but strengthens their ability to problem solve as well.

Throughout the upcoming months, we will continue to be faced with abrupt changes to our daily routine. This moment in time affords us an opportunity to strengthen our ability to not only process our own emotions, but to devise a structured response during times of hardship, that ensures the safety and wellbeing of our families.

Nikki Woods

Nikki Woods is a highly-sought after licensed clinical psychotherapist, founder of the Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, New Jersey, and creator of Mindstream Daily Wellness App. After earning her Masters Degree at New York University, Nikki dedicated her career to studying the intricacies of the developing female mind.
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