Useful mental health tips for parents as kids return to in-person school
[Apr. 7, 2021: Lisa Gonzales]
More than a year after the pandemic began, many kids are just now returning to in-person school. Some students may have a harder time than others dealing with physically going back to campus.
Kelly Richardson, a licensed marriage and family therapist has some advice to help parents and students through this potentially challenging time.
"It's not going to be the normal school that they remember," Richardson said. "We really have to be understanding that this is almost like another new normal.
She noted that it took children a while to adjust to the new normal of distance learning earlier in the pandemic.
"We have to offer the same kindness and patience that we kind of did in the beginning," she said.
Richardson encourages parents to ask their children open-ended questions and really listen to their answers.
Here are some examples of these types of questions:
Are you concerned about anything?
What are you most excited about?
What are you most nervous about?
Richardson also recommends re-establishing structure, setting a bedtime, limiting screen time, and taking baby steps to re-socialize your student.
"Especially for kids that didn't really get out and socialize a lot, it's very scary to kind of reintroduce yourself back into that social network if you feel like you have been out of it for a while," Richardson said.
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When talking with your child, Richardson says to make sure to validate their feelings and concerns so they know they are heard and they are not alone.
Once your child does go back to school, don't overwhelm them with questions when they come home. Richardson said to only ask them one or two questions because they may come home exhausted.
If a student is having debilitating anxiety about returning to class, parents should talk with a school counselor and come up with a plan, she said.