When Back to School Isn’t Back to Normal: 6 Tips to Help Your Child Cope

Back to school can be a stressful and even nerve-wracking time for kids. This year, however, things are different. While most schools have already started, it’s clear that things aren’t “normal” across the country.

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So, if your child is having a hard time going back to school this year, they aren’t alone. As a parent, there are things you can do to help them cope and make the transition easier. Let’s cover a few helpful tips.

1. Be Open and Honest

Talk to your child as much as possible about what they can expect at school. Even if classes have already started, let them know about any changes the district is implementing and keep them informed of the rules. When they hear them from you in a comforting way, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed by them.

2. Have a Routine

Children thrive on routines, even as they get older. This year, however, a home routine can be more beneficial (and important) than ever. Because things might feel different at school, creating a more secure, predictable home environment can help to ease their worries and manage anxiety.

3. Get Them Together With Friends

Arrange for as many “play dates” as possible with friends outside of school. You can take any precautions you want, but this can help to establish a sense of normalcy. It will also help your child realize that they aren’t alone if they’re struggling. They have at least one friend they can turn to at school if they’re feeling overwhelmed by the sudden changes.

4. Validate Their Concerns

Encourage your child to talk to you throughout the school year. If they’re struggling or having trouble with changes, it’s important that you know about it.

It’s not enough to just talk to them at the beginning of the year. This pandemic has proven to change things on a regular basis. By having a consistent understanding of how your child is doing and how they’re feeling, you’ll be able to help them cope and notice any red flags before they become too serious.

5. Don’t Push Them

Although it’s important to listen to your child’s concerns, don’t push them to talk about everything at the end of the day.

When they get home from school, they’re bound to be tired. They might even be overwhelmed by everything. Give them some time and space to process things and rest. You might want to know how their day went immediately, but pushing them to talk can drive them away and cause frustrations to rise.

You know your child better than anyone. You’ll know when they’re ready to have a conversation. Let them come to you, or find the right time when they’re calm and comfortable to talk about how things are going.

6. Encourage Better Sleep Habits

While having a routine can make getting enough sleep easier for your child, it’s not always enough. So, it’s important to encourage your child to develop better sleep hygiene.

If your child isn’t well-rested, they could start to lose focus in school, experience behavioral changes, and become more susceptible to mental health struggles. Encourage them to get enough sleep by not allowing electronics before bed, having a specific “bedtime” each night, and making sure their room is a healthy sleeping environment with few distractions.

Ideally, things will start to go back to normal in our school systems. Until then, your child (and you) has to adjust to the “new normal” that is currently taking place, and that can be difficult. Keep these tips in mind to help them cope and work through changes as they head back to school this year. Let’s work things through the school year together. Please reach out to me today or visit my Parenting Skills page to learn more about how I can help.

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