Going back to school after summer vacation is difficult enough for students but now, as we face going back to school amidst a pandemic where safety precautions are everchanging and lifesaving vaccines are eligible for only a portion of our students, there may be an added layer of stress and anxiety.
First, it is important to recognize the emotions your student may experience returning to school. They may be excited to see their friends after a year of virtual learning, but they could also be anxious about the changes that come with a new school year.
The Three N’s Strategy:
To help prepare your child for their return to the classroom and the mixed emotions that may come with a new school year, you can follow the three N’s strategy to use facts to help your child work through these emotions and “halt endless loops of irrational worry.”
Parenting Tip: This exercise can be done out loud or written in a journal.
Name – Name the feeling or feelings you are experiencing: anxiety, stress, depression, guilt, or relief. Naming your feelings gives permission and space for you to feel these things, making them more manageable and tangible.
Normalize – Acknowledge that it is okay to feel these emotions. For parents of children and teens stressed about returning to school, listen and acknowledge their feelings by responding with, “It makes sense and I understand there are lots of reasons to feel [anxious/stressed/nervous] about going back to school after a year away.”
Navigate – You may not be able to easily solve an issue but talking through the things that are causing the greatest distress or concern can help unburden the mental toll of those emotions. It can also help you create a plan of self-care to ease the effects.
It is also important as we begin a new school year and get used to a new ‘normal’ that we practice patience and self-awareness. We must listen and encourage our children to accept all the mixed feelings that come with it. Just as mask-wearing and social distancing became our norm, we will need to be more open about checking in on each other and offer support to each other when needed.
Need More Support?
If you need more behavioral health support, please contact ACCESS at 1.866.267.2353 to schedule an appointment today. ACCESS offers a wide range of behavioral health services and programs to help you live the best life possible. Our providers are clinically trained to connect you to the right specialists at the right time.