The end of August is typically full of mixed emotions and transition, but nothing could possibly compare to this coming school year. Schools have developed a variety of plans leaving room for many questions and concerns. It is safe? Will they be comfortable? Are they receiving the proper level of academic support?
The fear of the unknown is big – and there is a lot of unknown with this coming September. What will it look like? Who is going to watch the kids? How will we make this all work? Without a doubt, we are going to have some fear, worry, and anxiety about returning. We are all full of shifting and ever-changing emotions. Let it be heard – it is okay to not be okay! They are our feelings and we can feel however we want to feel. Give space to discuss these feelings without judgment. Remind your child and yourself of another time we were afraid and came out on the other side.
Emotions can appear in many different ways. Try to be patient with changes in behavior. Remind yourself that you may need a little extra patience for yourself as well. As parents, our worries are endless. As much as we are preparing for the worst, we also don’t want to instill our own fears onto our children. We may assume that our children are feeling the same exact way we are – but that may not be accurate. It is important to keep the dialogue going and check-in. Sometimes children don’t tell us things because they don’t want to add to our own worries. Be mindful of how your emotions are impacting your behavior with others. Try to keep questions open-ended and neutral.
When we start thinking about the what if’s, it can become a slippery slope. Asking big questions about the future or perseverating on the past means we are no longer present. At times, it can easily feel like we have lost all control – but we can always control something. We can control how we protect ourselves, how we distance ourselves, the words we use, and the choices we make. The morning may not have been the best start to the day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad day. Try not to lump everything together.
When the activities start picking up, the demands of homework/tests increase, and to To-Do lists get longer – be sure to take a moment for yourself. That empathy/compassion hat may be harder to find in our “closet”, but it is an important hat to wear. Not only for our children – but for ourselves.
We might be surprised by how well some children transition back to school. We might adjust faster than others. Stay away from comparing or questioning why other people make choices that you don’t agree with. We may change our minds on what we are comfortable with. Don’t judge it. Keep your energy on your family and listen to your gut.
Remember that we are all resilient, and “this too shall pass!”
- Leave space for questions and curiosity
- Varying on your child’s age and maturity, share as much factual information without instilling fear
- Remind your child (and yourself) of the things we can control in the situation
- Remember there is no such thing as bad emotions – just emotions!
- Practice some hypothetical situations that may occur
- Implement daily self-care
- Check-in daily with your emotions and your child’s
- Seek support as needed
- Remember to breathe!