Kids will soon be returning to school soon, but this year they face even more challenges to mental and emotional health than ever. Best-selling author, TEDx speaker and Psychotherapist Jodi Aman, LCSW, has a few tips to help out parents and their kids prepare.
Here’s Jodi’s top tips to help kids prepare for returning to school:
1. Feel comfortable with your decision to send them back or homeschool. Remind yourself that you are empowered rather than disempowered. Especially with kids going back to school with COVID still rampant in many parts of our country, we deeply feel the "no choice" conundrum. But within every action you take you do have a choice. You may be struggling with only having to choose one, when you'd prefer two options, but it is still a choice. If you focus on what you can choose and do so consciously, this will empower you (instead of making you distracted by being out of control) to make other choices to make things work the best for your family.
2. Get your kids used to and comfortable with masks by wearing them frequently. Let them build up to many hours a day so they get used to it. It can be like wearing new prescription glasses. You might get dizzy the first day if you wear them too long. Have them do different activities with a mask so it becomes second nature. Don't spend energy hating the mask, this exhausts you and can make you kids feel anxious and troubled. You have to model adaptability to them.
3. Role-play setting limits. This situation may increase times when other children aren't respecting your child's space. Some kids are not kinesthetically aware and may need to be reminded frequently to physically distance. Help your kids find the words to ask for space when they are in these situations. Practice doing this until they feel more comfortable.
4. Give them tips on what to do if they are bullied. One consequence of people feeling out of control is that they bully others to try to get a sense of control back. Just like every other year, make sure you speak to your kids about what to do if and when they are bullied. Get close to an adult, tell an adult, and tell you so you can decide next steps together.
5. Practice no face-touching. This is one of the hardest things is that people touch our eyes, nose and mouth constantly and now we need to train ourselves not to. For kids, especially if they have been home all this time, haven't had to practice this yet. Try to come up with fun ways to learn not to touch one's face. The masks may help with this, but there may be times when there is physically distancing possible and they may take masks off, like during lunch, before washing their hands and not having ever had to have this awareness, they may need to practice this. Rather than increasing anxiety, normalize this so your kids feel like taking smart action is an empowered way to live free of worry.