Tips for parents to manage back to school anxiety

Many kids are facing a new anxiety heading back into the classroom.
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:02 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As JCPS students started heading back March 17, children have different concerns about the pandemic and area experts hope to help calm some of those fears.

Many children aren’t sure about leaving their safe family Non-Traditional Instruction bubble. Others are anxious about the new COVID rules or how their classroom has changed. Those are all compacted with the traditional first day nerves many children are feeling.

Greg Oether, Behavioral Health Outreach Coordinator with UofL Health, says anxiety is a common and healthy reaction. Its how we all prepare for situations in life.

If your child doesn’t always tell you they’re bothered, be aware parents, from youngsters to teens, they may be showing you signs.

“You may see them withdraw,” Oether said, “you may see them want to go to their bedroom and close the door, you may see them want to sleep or want to not sleep, issues like that. You may see them become clingy.”

He says let them know new rules are in place to keep them safe and validate their concerns.

“Ask them some open ended questions about what’s going on with their day and seeing what their experiences are like.”

It helps to remind kids of other first time experiences they’ve had.

“The first time they joined a sports team, or the first time they went to a band practice it was a new experience for them so helping them realize, hey when you did these things, you had some of those same fears.”

Still other children don’t understand why their parents can get the vaccine and be safe, but they can’t.

Dr. Casey Lewis said her 5-year-old was disappointed right away

“He got to see someone he knows get their vaccine and he was very jealous.” Dr. Lewis said about her child.

Oether says we can remind those kids, it could happen sooner.

“So what I would say to my child is, let’s stay on top of this and check in about where we can get it.” Oether Said.

Families really interested in getting vaccinations should check with their pediatrician about being involved in upcoming trials in Kentucky.

One begins in Bardstown this summer.

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