Sept. 1, 2020
By Maureen Kyle
CLEVELAND — Whether kids are heading back to school in person or online, they know that there’s a danger lurking and they need to be concerned about coronavirus. Also, a disruption to routine can trigger anxiety, but that’s something all parents can help them with as we start the school year.
Kim Bell, a child psychologist with the Hanna Perkins Center, says walking them through their day will help eliminate surprises. Talk about how the school will look different, how they’ll be wearing masks and how their temperatures might be taken.
“Reminding kids that they have learned how to keep themselves safe in lots of other ways,” she says. “They can safely ride their bike, they can keep their body safe and dry. They can wear their helmet when they ride their bike. They look both ways when they cross the street. We have taught them many different ways to be safe. And that we can learn this, too. And if we decrease our parental anxiety by knowing that we can teach our kids to do these things, then we will decrease their anxiety.”
It’s important to also talk to them about what will be the same when they go back — not just what will look different. If they are learning from home, this will be a complete change in routine. Bell says they won’t be getting the same one-on-one attention that they would in the classroom.
“If you’re starting to see too much sleeping or not enough sleeping or a small child is regressing and wanting to co-sleep with their parents where they were independent before, changes in eating, any of those changes in those daily behaviors that worry you, what we have to see now is mental health as a consult.”
One simple piece of advice: It’s important to start by telling your kid that changes are hard, but we’ll get through it.
The interview is below, or you can watch it at WKYC-TV3.