17 Nov Protect children’s mental health on their return to school during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to everyday life, and children are being deeply affected by these changes. Although many children look forward to going back to school, others will feel nervous or scared. These tips will help your children’s mental health to manage some of the difficult emotions they may feel when they return to school.
My son is afraid to go back to school. How can I help you to be calm?
The beginning of school or a new academic year can be stressful under normal circumstances, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. You can help your child stay calm by having an open conversation about what is worrying him and letting him know that it is natural to be nervous.
Children may feel nervous or reluctant when they return to school, especially if they have been studying at home for months. Be honest: for example, you could explain some of the changes that can be found at school, such as the need to wear some type of protection, such as a mask.
Additionally, children can also find it difficult to maintain physical distance from their friends and teachers at school, so you can encourage them to think of other ways to bond and stay connected with them.
Reassure your child by talking about the safety measures that have been put in place to help take care of the mental health of students and teachers, and remind him or her that he or she can also help prevent the spread of germs by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into the elbow.
Remind your child of the positives; for example, that he will be able to see his friends and his teachers (if he returns to school in person) and that he will continue to learn new things.
At my son’s school, they recommend that students wear protective clothing, and that is making him more nervous. What should I tell you?
Approach the conversation with empathy and tell him that you know that he is nervous and that it is healthy for him to talk about his concerns and his emotions. Children may feel upset or frustrated if they find it difficult to wear a mask. Try to reassure him that many adults are going out of their way to help protect their family, and emphasize that it is important that we all follow the recommended steps to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable members of our community.
How can I encourage my child to take precautions at school (like frequent hand washing) without alarming him?
Frequent hand washing is an important precaution to protect children (and all of us!) Not only from COVID-19, but against other diseases as well. Encouraging frequent hand washing with your kids doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. You can sing your favorite song together or dance to make learning fun. Don’t forget to teach her that although germs are invisible, that doesn’t mean they aren’t present. When children understand why they should wash their hands, they are more likely to keep doing it.
You can also teach your child to cover their coughs or sneezes with their elbow and ask them to let you know if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
My son will not be in the same group as his friends when he goes back to school and that makes him feel even more isolated. How can you feel more connected to the class and to your friends?
If the return to school begins gradually, your child may feel nervous about being separated from his friends. When the official reopening of schools is announced, help him prepare to return by explaining when and how it will happen.
Notifying your children in advance that schools may have to close again will help them prepare ahead of time for the adjustment period. It is also important to keep reminding them that education can take place anywhere: at home and at school.
For those with access to the internet, provided it is done safely and under supervision. The uses of virtual games, social media, and video conferencing programs can offer children excellent opportunities to maintain contact, to learn. And play with their friends, your parents, and your family while at home. You can also encourage your children to express themselves online to share their opinions and help those in need during this crisis.
You can encourage your children to take advantage of digital tools. That keep them awake and active, such as virtual exercise videos for children or video games that require physical movement. As much as possible, don’t forget to keep a balance between virtual leisure and activities. That doesn’t require an internet connection, such as spending time outdoors.
How can I check how my child is feeling in a delicate way?
It is important that you be calm and proactive in conversations with your children: communicate with them to see how they are feeling. Their emotions will change frequently and you must show them that it is normal.
Whether at school or at home, caregivers can offer children creative activities, such as playing and drawing, to help them express themselves and communicate any negative feelings they may have in a safe and secure environment. This will help them find positive ways to express complex feelings, such as anger, fear, or sadness.
Since children copy their emotions from the adults who are closest to them. It is important that these adults control their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak to them with kindness and reassure them.
Are there any symptoms I should look out for when my child returns to school?
In addition to monitoring your child’s learning and physical health when he returns to school. You should also watch out for any symptoms of stress or anxiety. COVID-19 could be affecting your child’s mental health. And it is important that you show him that it is normal. And that nothing is wrong if he feels overwhelmed at times. When in doubt, empathy and support are always the best options.
On the other hand, cases of stigmatization and harassment when children return to school. Derived from the transmission of misinformation about COVID-19, are a cause for concern. You should explain to your children that the virus has nothing to do with a person’s appearance, origin, or language. If they have been insulted or harassed at school, they should be encouraged to tell a trusted adult. Remind your children that everyone deserves to be safe at school and on the internet. Bullying is always wrong and we should all do our part to spread kindness and support each other.
My son is concerned about bullying at school and on the internet. How can I broach the subject?
If your child is concerned about bullying in person or online. It is important that you assure him that he is not alone. And that he can always talk to you or another trusted adult. The more you talk to your children about bullying, the more comfortable they will feel. Talk to them on a daily basis. Ask them how they have been doing in school and in their online activities. And take an interest in their feelings. Some children may not express their emotions verbally. So you should be vigilant for any nervous or aggressive behavior that could indicate something is wrong.
Also, you should have open and honest conversations with your children. Make them understand the bad impact of the internet on mental health and how to be safe online. Talk to them to find out who they are communicating with and how. Make sure they understand the value of kind and understanding communication. And that means, discriminatory, or inappropriate treatment is never acceptable. If your children receive such treatment, encourage them to immediately tell you or another trusted adult. Pay attention to perceive if your child is introverted or disgusted. Check if he uses his device more or less than normal since they could be symptoms that he is being bullied online.
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