Back to School! How to Navigate Anxiety Around Covid-19

Back to School! How to Navigate Anxiety Around Covid-19 Back to School! How to Navigate Anxiety Around Covid-19

Back to School!

This is a time like no other! As our children head back to school and to the playground, we are naturally concerned about Covid-19 and its variants. A little anxiety can be helpful! It reminds us to wash our hands and wear our masks. Following the advice of health experts is so crucial on our quest back to normalcy. Yet, it is our prerogative as parents to give our children the best tools possible in this new chapter!

The conditions produced by the Covid-19 pandemic, living in confined spaces in fear of a contagion, promoted the development of attachment and anxiety issues. The amount of time families were in proximity together was unprecedented. It caused a realignment of the family system and reinforced behavioral patterns exhibited in the home. Attachment and dependency could likely be stronger in some cases than ever before. Now we must focus on reintegration.

Anxiety about separation and leaving the home may be unpredictable and uncontrollable. Children may exhibit a range of behaviors, from excessive hand washing or compulsive-obsessive behaviors to depression or bouts of sadness. Children with anxiety disorders can become dysfunctional. Fears often can escape the realm of reality leading children to use unhealthy coping mechanisms such as avoidance or compulsions.

Here is what we can do!

- Minimize exposure! If a child is obsessing over a thought or behavior do not constantly focus on it. Be honest and concise.

- Do not give more detail than is necessary. Too much detail can create more worries.

- Explore their thoughts. Ask them what they know. Validate feelings.

- Ask about mental or physical discomforts. It is important to check in on your child's well-being.

- Limit exposure to media if possible.

When a child is older it may be useful to ask your child about specific thoughts and challenge them. Help them realize that some thoughts can result in them overestimating the chances their fears will come true. Guide them to more realistic based thoughts. It could be helpful to have a child write down what they are thinking. Writing exercises could make it easier to track thought patterns logically. It can also be easier to express certain feelings. Writing does not come with the social expectations that verbal communication demands.

Intolerance of Uncertainty is the incapacity to deal with certain events. We want to maintain a positive outlook for our children. The fear of Covid-19 upticks and the fear of quarantining again can be directly associated with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. We are working our way out and we will get there!

When properly supported by families, mental health professionals and other connections in our community we can be certain that our children will overcome these conditions and flourish! Children naturally want to thrive and with our help we can ensure that.

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