COVID-19 has changed kids’ everyday lives dramatically, but now face-to-face school is officially back on and families are cautiously returning to many routines.
But this is a new kind of normal, isn’t it? And just like many adults, some kids have worries.
So how can parents best support kids as they ease back into this ‘new normal’ and deal with school, friends, hand sanitiser and everything else?
There are many simple ways parents can help kids dip back into school and social situations with confidence.
Getting back to school and seeing friends can be tricky but parents should acknowledge any anxiety children are feeling. Let children know at it is normal to feel worried about returning to previous activities and school. Most kids (and adults for that matter) are feeling some anxiety at this time.
Listen to any concerns they may have.
Show empathy and understanding. Help them think of a time when they were in a similar situation and how they got through it. Stay calm and show them you know they will be ok.
It can take some time to adjust to old and new routines. While adjusting to new routines, be sure to give children credit for adapting to changes and being brave if they are reluctant to return to activities. Try not to let avoidance creep in.
Talk to children about changes.
Children will more easily adapt to changes in routine if they know what to expect in their day ahead of time.
Anxiety often looks different in different children or even the same children when they’re in different situations, like school and home. For some children, anxiety translates into angry outbursts. Others may show more subtle changes, such as avoiding things, asking lots of questions or seeking extra reassurance.
Try to keep things ‘business as usual’ whenever possible. Most children are creatures of habit and even very basic routines help them to feel secure.
Watch out for any changes in behaviour.
Get help if you are worried or if anxieties or behaviours are interfering in your child’s or your family’s life. Don’t let things drag on.
The great news is help is out there and more people are accessing support. Awareness is increasing and the message is that ‘it’s okay to say you are not ok and ask for help’.
Laura is founder of The Behaviour Coach and is a Registered Psychologist. She has worked in a variety of settings with adults, children and families. The Behaviour Coach practice works with children and parents to manage anxiety and behaviour. She lives in Sydney’s East with her husband, three children and dog.
For more information on anxiety in children and how to help follow her @thebehaviourcoach on Instagram www.instagram.com/thebehaviourcoach
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