TORONTO – Going back to school can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be.
Even with all the uncertainty surrounding the second pandemic school year, experts said there are things parents can do to try and make the transition go smoothly for children.
Good communication is one of them.
“It is important that we are checking in with our children at this time,” Dr Tyler Black, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of British Columbia, told Granthshala news channel on Saturday.
“Kids are going to be stressed during a pandemic,” he said, especially when they are going back to school.
Black said that simply empathizing that this is a difficult time and asking if there is anything you can do to help can be beneficial.
Katherine Earl, a certified educator and founder of My Life Creative, a website that sells art-based products for kids, agreed.
“They’ve been out of school for a really long time, so they must be feeling things like social anxiety, separation anxiety,” Earl told Granthshala news channel on Saturday.
“It’s common as parents and adults to open up the lines of communication with our children and to talk about feelings, to talk about mental health so that they are able to come to us. Feel comfortable when they feel anxious or overwhelmed,” she said.
And if kids are feeling stressed, she suggests using affirmations to help build positive self-talk and confidence – statements that typically begin with ‘I can’ or ‘I am. There are.
Some examples are: ‘I can do difficult things’; ‘I am brave.’
“The more your kids repeat their affirmations, the more quickly they’ll believe they’re true and absorb the positive message,” Earl said.
Those positive statements will be even more effective if they’re fun, so Earl recommends getting kids creative and putting affirmations on a poster, T-shirt, or bracelet.
Once children adopt that positive mindset, their self-esteem and confidence will improve, she said.
Black agreed that making things fun can help children who are struggling with stress or anxiety.
“Sometimes people get caught up in the academic side of school,” he said. “What kids are probably missing most is the social connection of being around friends and doing activities together.
“It would be really cool if we could make school easy and fun,” he said. “And slowly get the kids where they are in regards to the amount of work so they don’t feel like they have to do everything while they’re under stress.”