Kids going back to school? How to support them during Covid-19

(Photo source: ISASA)

By Riana de Villiers, Counselling Psychologist

Our children are preparing to physically return to school – some are excited and others less so. Many parents (including me) are concerned about the gaps in academic tuition and the impact on the children’s performance, not only for the remainder of the academic year, but also the impact on the next academic year.

Although our children may be concerned about this, they face even bigger challenges… to adapt to a world with new rules, new routines and more stressors.

School is much more than a place of cognitive development. It also plays an integral part in a child’s emotional- and social development.

Our children are already growing up in a world that is not always safe – considering crime and social challenges (e.g. exclusion, bullying, etc.). Now they are sent out to also face an “invisible threat” – a virus that can be anywhere.

They are discouraged to do what comes naturally – to seek social interaction (often in close proximity) and physical contact that provided comfort, relaxation and support in the past, but is now considered off-limits and prohibited. This adds to the stress and anxiety children may already be experiencing.

My plea to parents: Please monitor your children carefully.

  • Ask them how they feel about their classroom, classmates and classwork.
  • Encourage them to talk about their likes and dislikes at school.
  • Give them a chance to express their anxieties, excitement or disappointments about each day.
  • Create time and opportunity for relaxation and positive interaction at home.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of emotional distress, such as change in eating or sleeping habits, nightmares, headaches, upset stomach, or other physical symptoms without a physical illness.
  • Withdrawal from others or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Contact your child’s teacher or a professional if you are concerned about your child.

More signs to look out for:

https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/8-warning-signs-your-child-under-too-much-stress.html

https://www.thespark.org.uk/spotting-the-signs-of-emotional-distress-in-children-and-young-people/

https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/coronavirus-kids-and-signs-stresshttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/parenting/kids-stress-coronavirus.html

 

 

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