Tips to help reduce the anxiety of returning to school after Lockdown

Covid19 pandemic of 2020 and the resulting lockdown, has certainly had an impact on all of us, not least our children causing much anxiety. So, how can we help?

*firstly, do seek professional help if you feel you or your child’s mental health is of concern.

As lockdown eases further, children of all ages and their parents may be having feelings of anxiety around returning to school after such an extended break and worrying about how safe it is for their children, which is understandable.

For many children, lockdown has been a happy & safe experience that they may not want to change.

Many children have desperately missed their friends, teachers and the routine school offers and have also been missing out on extra-curricular activities.

Children & young adults can respond in different ways:

Maybe becoming withdrawn; be unusually clingy; be ‘naughtier’ and seek attention or lash out and can show their concerns by really worrying about what might happen but find it difficult to say how they feel.

Things that may help

  • Children mostly take their cues on how to deal with a situation from the adults around them.
  • Be aware of using negative language, or talking about your worries within your child’s earshot, about them returning to school.
  • If your child is worried about going back to school, it isn’t enough to say, “everything will be alright”.

Acknowledge how they feel, and that it is ok if they feel worried and then help them to deal with it and find good coping mechanisms

  • Older children – let them know it is Ok to feel anxious and that the feelings can just be some apprehension and are the same for excitement too! That after day one or two they will feel much better
  • Try to limit the news coverage and stick to things you can control within your environment and your child’s school.
  • On a practical level – connect with parents and children your child knows from school. Arrange a safe play date or meeting. This helps you share your worries too.
  • Walk or drive past the school a few times before the term starts. Also, get your child involved in getting their uniform and bag ready.
  • Encourage your child to talk about what they like doing at school and their friends
  • If your child is moving from primary to secondary, remember that their anxieties are real, encourage them to talk over how they feel.
  • Most schools have good information on their website about the safety measures they have put in place. Contact the school if you are particularly concerned.
  • Some Children worry about leaving their parent alone at home…reassure them that you will be fine.
  • For most children of all ages – after the first few days of getting back to school, a routine will soon be found, and they will have survived and so will you!

*SHOUT – part of Heads Together a useful texting service for people struggling with Mental Health. Visit Childline, Young Minds and Anxiety UK’s websites too, all packed with great advice.