Mental Health Mondays
Transitioning Back To In-Person Learning – Part 3
by Jennifer Reid, MA
Early School Director/In-School Therapeutic Services Coordinator
Lucy Daniels Center
One question we’ve gotten a lot lately from parents as they think about their children returning to school is How do I explain that it is safe now when we’ve been home the past year to stay safe?
One of our clinicians shares one way to explain this to children:
“We have learned a lot about the virus since people first started getting sick. We know how the virus is spread and what we can do to protect ourselves by wearing masks and social distancing. We know that fewer people are getting sick now. The adults (governor, teachers, school administrators, and parents) are always watching to make sure we are safe and that school is safe to open. Just like when it snows, schools know when it’s a better idea to stay closed or when it is safe to go to school.”
Another clinician adds that a child’s worries about the virus may manifest in different ways. She advises parents and caregivers to watch for some of these not-so-obvious signs that a child might be anxious about the virus:
- Change in sleep habits
- Changes in other habits or routines
- Increased excitability or impulsivity
- Increased withdrawal or shyness
- Taking off mask or refusing to wear mask
- Exaggerated coughing or “fake” coughing
- Opposing parents’ or teachers’ safety rules or requests
Talking about how changes in behavior can be related to how a child is feeling can be a helpful way to settle a child. A simple starter comment such as, “There has been so much to think about since you started going back to school. It’s so different from how it used to be” may help open the door for your child’s feelings and questions about their return to school. Focusing on what might be behind the changes in behavior can sometimes be more effective than focusing solely on trying to stop the behavior.
Do you have a specific question about your child’s transition back to in-person school?