<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=741292666218767&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1 https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=741292666218767&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1 ">
Back to Stronger Minds

Ask a Therapist: I'm nervous about my child returning to the classroom. What can I do?

Featured Image

It's that time of year again, except it looks a bit different this time around. On top of the normal back-to-school nerves you face as a parent, you're probably experiencing some added stress and anxiety around your child returning to the classroom during COVID-19. Whether in-person learning was your choice or not, here are some tips to help you manage your stress and ease the transition for your child(ren):

Set the tone. 

This school year will be a very uncertain time for children and parents alike. As a parent, it’s natural to experience stress and anxiety about your child’s return, but it’s important to be conscious of how you’re modeling your feelings to your child. Be sure to express your emotions in a calm, healthy and grounded way and model how to effectively cope with uncertainty and anxiety through your actions. Children tend to mirror their parents, so it’s best to model healthy emotional expression and coping.

Example: “Mom is feeling stressed about back-to-school, and I imagine you are too. It’s normal to feel stressed when a big change is happening, but I know that your school is making things as safe as they can. To help me feel better, I’m going to go for a walk and talk to a friend on the phone tonight. What helps you when you feel stressed?”

Validate their feelings. 

There’s no right or wrong way to feel about the return to school, so make sure your child knows that. Let them know that their emotions are valid and understandable and normalize whatever they’re experiencing. Ask them open-ended questions about how they’re feeling and about the worries they’re facing. You can also use this as an opportunity to remind them of the coping strategies they’ve used in the past.

Example: “It makes sense that you’re feeling nervous right now. A lot of other people are feeling that way too. It’s understandable that you’re worried about seeing everyone again and wearing a mask all day. The last time you felt nervous, we took some deep breaths together and it helped you. Do you think that would help to do on the first morning back at school?”

Know the facts. 
There’s so much conflicting information out there about COVID-19. Try to stay grounded by reminding yourself of the research and facts. For example, each school district has taken steps to ensure students’ safety, whether this mean mandating masks, ensuring social distancing in the classroom or requiring all staff to be vaccinated. Also, resist the urge to reassure your child, and instead explore the facts with them to help them manage their worries and think in a realistic way.

Example: “You’re right, there is a possibility of getting sick at school. But your school is taking a lot of precautions to keep you safe, and I’ll be making sure there’s always a mask and hand sanitizer in your backpack. Your teacher will probably also talk to you about other safety measures on the first day back. When you come home from the first day, we can talk about what your teacher said to make sure we’re all keeping you as safe as we can.”

Take care of yourself. 

Lastly, and most importantly, take care of yourself! The more you show up for yourself, the better you’ll be able to support your child through this transitional time. Make sure you’re taking care of your physical and emotional needs - drink water, get outside, prioritize rest, reach out to your support network, make time for your hobbies, and be kind and compassionate with yourself. It’s a difficult time for you as well, and you deserve some extra care and comfort.

Research consistently shows that children are incredibly resilient. They are adaptable and resourceful when facing transitions and coping with stress. This is especially true if they have a supportive and caring adult in their lives. So, it’s vital to prioritize your own self-care, as this is the best way you can show up for your child in the ways that they most need.

If you're ready to try therapy for mental health struggles and life challenges, find the digital mental health therapy best suited for you and complete an assessment.

Your space for strengthening your mental health

Get fresh content delivered to my inbox every month:

"Start by accepting the increased uncertainty..."

Your space for strengthening your mental health

Get fresh content delivered to my inbox every month:

Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.