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Getting kids mentally prepared to return to school

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:04 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Jay Hendricks was joined by Kristi Edwards of Centers for Children and Families to discuss mentally preparing kids for their return to school.

The following comes from Centers:

GETTING KIDS MENTALLY PREPARED TO RETURN TO SCHOOL

This week the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended in-person learning for school aged children. They also recommended that anyone older than 2 years old wear masks regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. There has been a rise in all 50 states of the COVID variant and some states are taking a step back to re-evaluate their processes. Locally school is starting very soon at a time when things are uncertain and will surely cause some anxiety.

How do we prepare ourselves and our children for the return to school?

1. Start by informing yourself…ask questions about your child’s school

and what their plan is for opening. They have had a lot of time to prepare so should be able to answer your questions. Kids are kids so they understand even less than we do so they will be looking to you for security. Your anxiety can cause them anxiety. Start a familiar routine before the first day of school. Get them used to a daily schedule that matches what they will do on school days. Ex. Waking and going to sleep, eating breakfast and lunch, picking out next days clothes.

2. Use storytelling techniques to inform your child…

You can use this to tell them what will be the same and what will be different. An example…You’ll be going to the same school, riding the same bus or carpool, your friend Joey will be on the bus with you. BUT what’s different is you’ll be required to wear a mask, socially distance, etc. Then allow them to ask questions.

3. Practice what’s expected of them

Make sure they know where, when and how to use any new guidelines that will be in place. Practice hand washing, social distancing, proper mask wearing. Practice replacement behaviors such as bumping elbows and air high fives instead of hugging.

4. Check in frequently

Listen to what they have to say, validate their emotions, then offer reassurance and help them problem solve.

What signs should we look for?

Stress and anxiety can manifest in a number of ways such as:

· More complaints of stomachaches and headaches – these are often signs a child is developing stress

· Changes in attitude – If your child is frequently irritable or cranky, or begins withdrawing into their bedroom often, this could indicate stress/anxiety

· Sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits – Some of these changes can be normal developmental changes but they could also be a stress response. You know your child, if you see a change, open a conversation.

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