Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health During COVID-19 Back to School

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The coronavirus epidemic has caused major disruptions in daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply. While going back to school will not only be welcome but exciting for many students, others will feel anxious or scared. Here are tips to help your children overcome some of the complicated emotions they may face when they return to school.

My child is afraid to go back to school. How can I help her feel comfortable?

Starting school or starting a new school year can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You can make him feel comfortable by openly discussing what is worrying him and letting him know that it’s natural to feel anxious.

Children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to school, especially if they have been learning at home for months. Be honest – for example, you might go through some of the changes they can expect in school, such as needing to wear protective clothing like masks. Children may also find it difficult to be physically away from their friends and teachers in school – you can encourage them to think of other ways to bond and stay connected.

Reassure children of the safety measures in place to help keep students and teachers healthy, and remind children that they can also help prevent the spread of germs by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into the elbow.

Remind the children of the good things – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers (if they physically return to class) and keep learning new things.

My child’s school recommends wearing protective clothing, which makes my child more nervous. What should I tell him?

Approach this conversation with empathy, saying that you know she feels anxious about the coronavirus, but it’s healthy to talk about our worries and emotions. Children can also be upset or frustrated if they have difficulty wearing masks, especially when running or playing. You can reassure your children that many adults are working hard to keep your family safe, but stress that it is important that we follow all of the recommended steps to take care of the most vulnerable members of our community.

How can I encourage my child to take precautions (such as frequent hand washing, physical distancing, etc.) at school without alarming them?

One of the best ways to protect children from COVID-19 and other illnesses is to simply encourage regular hand washing. It doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Sing along to their favorite song or dance together to make learning fun. Make sure you explain to them that even though the germs are invisible, they can still be there. When children understand why they should wash their hands, they are likely to continue to do so.

You can also show children how to cover a cough or sneeze with their elbow, and ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

>> Read everything you need to know about hand washing

My child is not in the same group as his close friends who go back to school and feel even more isolated. How can he feel more connected to the class and to his friends?

If your child’s school is gradually resuming, your child may be afraid of being separated from their friends. When the official reopening of schools is announced, help him prepare to return to school by sharing information on when and how it will happen.

Letting your children know in advance that schools may have to close again will help them prepare for the coming adjustment period. It is also important to continue to remind them that learning can happen anywhere – at school and at home.

For those with access to the Internet, the safe and supervised use of online games, social networks and video chat programs can provide children with excellent opportunities to connect, learn and play with their friends, relatives and relatives at home. You can also encourage your children to use their voice online to share their views and support those in need during this crisis.

You can encourage your kids to take advantage of digital tools that help them move, like online exercise videos for kids and video games that require physical movement. Remember to balance online leisure with offline activities, including time spent outdoors, if possible.

>> Discover 5 Ways to Help Kids Keep Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How can I gently check how my child is doing?

It is important to be calm and proactive in your conversations with children – check in with them to see how they are doing. Their emotions will change regularly, and you need to show them that’s okay.

Whether at school or at home, caregivers can engage children in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, to help them express and communicate any negative feelings they may have in a safe and secure environment. favorable. It helps children find positive ways to express difficult feelings like anger, fear or sadness.

As children often take their emotional cues from key adults in their lives – including parents and teachers – it is important that adults deal with their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them. .

>> Learn more about how to protect your family’s mental health from COVID-19

Is there anything I should watch out for when my child goes back to school?

In addition to checking your child’s physical health and learning when they return to school, you should also watch for signs of stress and anxiety. COVID-19 can impact your child’s mental health, and it’s important to demonstrate that it’s normal and okay to sometimes feel overwhelmed. When in doubt, empathy and support is the way to go.

There are also concerns that incidents of stigma and bullying will increase when children return to school, due to some misinformation regarding COVID-19. You need to explain that the virus has nothing to do with how a person looks, where they are from, or what language they speak. If they have been insulted or harassed at school, they should be encouraged to tell a trusted adult. Remind your children that everyone deserves to be safe at school and online. Bullying is always bad and we should each do our part to spread kindness and support each other.

My child is worried about bullying at school and online, how can I tell them?

If your child is worried about bullying in person or online, it is important to let them know that they are not alone and that they can always talk to you or another trusted adult. The more you talk to your kids about bullying, the more comfortable they’ll be telling you if they see or experience it. Communicate with your kids every day and ask questions about their time in school and online activities, as well as their feelings. Some children may not express their emotions verbally, so you should also watch out for any anxious or aggressive behavior that could indicate something is wrong.

You should also engage your kids in open and honest conversations about how to stay safe online. Have an honest dialogue with your children about who they are communicating with and how. Make sure they understand the value of caring and supportive interactions and that this means that discriminatory or inappropriate contact is never acceptable. If your children have any of these issues, encourage them to tell you or a trusted adult right away. Be vigilant if you notice your child becoming withdrawn or angry, or using their device more or less than usual, it could be a sign that they are being bullied online.

It is also important to familiarize yourself with the protection and bullying policies of your child’s school, as well as the appropriate referral mechanisms and available helplines.

>> Learn more about how to protect your child online when they are stuck at home during the COVID-19 outbreak

>> Cyberbullying: what it is and how to stop it



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