Helping Children and Parents Manage Back-to-School Anxiety Among COVID-19
It is common for students and parents to experience back to school jitters come August, however, this year’s stress is much greater. With COVID-19 still circulating, many children have been absorbing news surrounding the pandemic for months, which could cause an enormous amount of pressure and fear.
“Since March, schools and daycares have been closed and children have been socially distancing and banned from other extracurricular activities. This disconnect from peers will certainly have an impact on a child’s psyche,” says Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin, ACHT, ACSW, and President and CEO at Parents Anonymous®. “Many schools around the country may not reopen or may only partially reopen come fall due to the virus, and this is causing much stress among parents.”
Even though school is out for the summer, parents are worried that their children are not getting enough learning to be prepared to advance to the next grade. With the kids home, there is less structure and routine. Staying up late, sleeping in, less time socializing; all of which can negatively affect their overall wellbeing.
Recent advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children learn best when they are in school. However, returning to school in person needs careful steps in place to keep students and staff safe. If schools do reopen come fall, parents are nervous about their children being in close quarters with others. What if someone gets sick and the school closes? How will I continue to work if remote learning is enforced again? How will my child handle wearing a mask all day and the social distancing guidelines? These uncertainties can cause great stress on parents.
Kelly Cimborsky, a mother from Pennsylvania says, “My oldest daughter is set to start Pre-K this fall but I am still unsure if I will be sending her. I feel strongly that she needs the learning and socialization aspect, but I just gave birth to my second child and I’m very anxious about her picking up germs at school and bringing them home. I feel very confused and conflicted at this time.”
Parents across the country are feeling stressed, isolated and unsure about what’s best for them and their families; however, millions of working parents rely on school and childcare in order to support their family.
“As a single mom, it terrifies me to know I am making a choice between my child’s education and putting food on the table,” expresses Amanda Cruz, a mother from New Jersey, “As of now, it is still unclear what will happen to schools in NJ, but I’m feeling extremely anxious because I cannot afford to stop working in order to partake in remote learning.”
Parents Anonymous® Inc., the nation’s premier family strengthening organization, understands the many struggles, emotions, and uncertainties parents and children are facing as we approach the school year.
Parents Anonymous® offers a National Parent Helpline which provides immediate emotional support from trained helpline advocates. CALL, TEXT OR CHAT 1-855-427-2736 in any language. This is an easy and effective way parents and youth can seek guidance and emotional support during these trying times. They also offer ongoing online support groups that can be extremely beneficial to people of all ages.
In addition, Parents Anonymous® is sharing some insight on how this pandemic is impacting our children and how adults can best handle it. Here are a few key points to remember:
- Adults need to check in with their own feelings first. This pandemic is like nothing we’ve experienced in our lifetime, and we need to take care of ourselves first before we can nurture and teach children of all ages.
- Many children are experiencing a lot of fear because of the pandemic which turns into various forms of anxiety and sadness. Parents and caregivers need to tune in to each child and create a loving and nurturing environment in these uncertain times.
- As humans, we all need to feel socially connected. If remote learning is enforced come fall, parents must embrace this wholeheartedly in order to keep children engaged and connected with one another. This may be much different than being in a classroom, but children are resilient and will bounce back. Emphasizing resiliency is crucial to our mental health.
- Children and youth of all ages are impacted by fear and loss of human interaction. Older children have increased cognitive abilities to understand feelings but may feel more isolated and hesitant to share with their parents or an older sibling because they are worried about being judged. Supporting all children to express their feelings is the key while love and support in return creates the security we all need in these trying times.
- Focus on positive life experiences and recognize each child’s unique temperament which will enhance the mental and social wellbeing of everyone in your family. Continue to connect safely with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors and always social distance, wash your and each child’s hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds and remember: Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength®!
About Parents Anonymous®: Since 1969, Parents Anonymous® Inc. has created and disseminated internationally various Evidence-Based Programs and Initiatives that build on the strengths of diverse Parents, Children, and Youth. Parents Anonymous® is the only Evidence-Based Parent Partner Program as identified in the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse. Also, Parents Anonymous® started and partners with thousands of entities to celebrate every February National Parent Leadership Month®. With the support of the U.S. Congress, the National Parent Helpline® began in 1974 as the first and only nationwide emotional support system for Parents, Caregivers, Children & Youth. The California Parent and Youth Helpline and online Parents Anonymous® Weekly Groups are the most recent addition to the Parents Anonymous® Programs. Learn more at: https://parentsanonymous.org/.