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How to quell your child’s anxiety when we are still unsure when schools are opening?

How to quell your child’s anxiety when we are still unsure when schools are opening?   With Covid-19 still very much a part of our daily lives and no real direction as to when things will go back to “normal” it can be challenging to ease your child’s anxiety about when school will start again. As a general rule these two things will help you- help them manage their anxiety and expectations.  
  1. Listen and Validate Feelings. I know this was discussed in a previous blog post (link post here) but it cannot be stressed enough. Whatever your child is feeling is totally valid. It’s scary to not know when things will open up again and life will go back to normal. Online learning has been challenging for many kids and it may very well continue to be challenging. Validating how they are feeling will go a long way in easing their anxiety even if you do not have any definite answers for them.
  2. ROUTINE! I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining some kind of routine with kids during this crisis. Every day they should still wake up by a set time, eat: breakfast lunch dinner around the same time, do school work for a set period of time and schedule in some fun breaks. Breaks are important. In school kids have lunch, recess, music, art and gym class. It’s incorporated into their routine for a reason- kids need a mental break. Schedule set blocks of time for work and set blocks for break time- still structured and ideally not playing video games (as it’s often a struggle to get them to reengage after). Youtube and Pinterest have great ideas for craft projects for younger kids and art ideas for teens. I am a big fan of the “how to paint x” videos and origami instructional videos. Outside time to run and play is also a needed and welcomed activity especially for our kids who struggle with ADHD. Even a music break where you have a family dance party can help get some of their frustrated energy out. Heck you can even have them help make lunch or a fun snack (like ants on a log) for the kids who love to cook and bake. Creative outlets are so important for our youth.
  Sample Routine:   8am- wake up 8:30- eat breakfast 9-11- school work 11-12- creative break 12- lunch time 12:30-2:30- school work   If your child struggles with certain subjects- it may be good to pair an “easy” subject and a “hard” subject in each school block. This way if Sammy struggles with Math and Science we are not expecting her to do what’s most challenging for 2 hours straight.   If you as a parent do not have the luxury of getting to work form home during this crisis and feel like it is unrealistic to expect your childcare to get the bulk of this schoolwork done- I feel you! Create a schedule for when you get home. Have your child do easier work with their daytime caregiver and whatever may require a little more assistance from mom or dad they can do with you once you get home. It may be nice to do a rewarding activity once their done as a kind of “carrot” for them to get their work completed. Weather that be bedtime stories together, a movie, playing catch outside or earning a sticker on a chart to work towards a bigger thing (a toy they want a date night with mom or dad) for those parents who cannot feasibly accommodate an added activity each night.   As always, if you are having significant difficulties getting your child to complete work or feel that this is becoming a constant battle- seek additional help. A therapist, your school social worker or guidance counselor will be able to help you figure out what is not working and identify solutions to make your day with your child go a bit more smoothly. All these changes are really tough for us as adults to deal with- and it is just as hard for our kids. A little extra support may be all they need to get back on the right track.

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