Tackling Back-to-School Anxieties Amidst the Delta Variant
By Patty Burke, Health & Life Coach and Owner, Whole Health
Back-to-school is always an adjustment for both kids and parents, but COVID-19 and the Delta variant bring additional complications this fall. For all students in 2021, from pre-school to college-aged, there are added unknowns and worries for parents.
As a parent, you may be experiencing three major challenges this fall:
1. Fears about COVID-19
2. Concerns about getting back to busy (often overwhelming) school schedules
3. Many students are feeling worried that they might have fallen behind
So what to do about these unique back-to-school challenges? How do we best manage expectations, relationships, and fear, while preserving our relationships and our and our children’s health?
Concerns about COVID-19 are not unfounded:
With the Delta variant, we are seeing some breakthrough cases among the vaccinated.
Children under 12 are not old enough to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but are able to contract and spread the virus (often without symptoms).
As of September 8, the CDC reports that 25% of COVID case are children.
Surveys show that many students are feeling worried that they might have fallen behind. Learning remotely or in a hybrid system may have caused some students to lose confidence socially and academically.
Experts recommend communicating as a family as often as possible. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we as humans need social connections and communications. We need to be able to support one another, especially our children and young adults.
One positive of the pandemic was that it gave us a chance to step back and realize how we as parents may have been overcommitting ourselves and our kids. The pandemic allowed us to say no without any guilt. Keep this going as we enter this new school season.
Other helpful tips for smooth sailing this school year include:
1. Schedule a family meeting every week that includes something fun but also time to check in with each other.
You can ask questions like:
What is your biggest worry?
What can I do to ease that worry?
What was the best part of your week?
What was one accomplishment you are proud of? Acknowledging joy and gratitude helps relieve stress.
2. Consider safety and don’t worry what others think of your choices.
3. Give yourself permission to skip short-notice events.
4. Schedule your own self care.
5. Manage uncertainty by becoming more flexible in your behaviors and schedule.
For older kids:
Have check-in times via text or call, and decide time frequency.
Let them express their needs and go over solutions & options for compromise.
For younger kids:
Set aside ½ hour per day more than you did a year ago for 1:1 kid time.
Help kids to build social connections: after-school programs, sports, and activities for children to help them expand social connections and boost their talents and confidence.
Look for tutors when they need added support. Schoolhouse.world is a great free resource.
In the end, remember that you know your child the best, and trust your instincts when it comes to their care and safety.