Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Managing Stress Around the Upcoming School Year

Published on August 20, 2020 by   ·   14 Comments Pin It

Parents and caregivers are dealing with a lot of stressors this upcoming school year due to the different structure of this year. Parents and caregivers are having to adjust to their kids doing remote learning, in-person learning, or a hybrid while also working their own jobs and taking care of household needs. One way to help manage this stress is by taking breaks as needed. It is important for caregivers to take breaks throughout the day so that they can de-stress and have a change of environment. If they are constantly going from one task to another, they can become overwhelmed. Taking time to walk outside, go to the mailbox, walk around the house, or even spending time alone in their room can be beneficial.

Socialization with friends, routine, and a change of environment all impact a child’s mental health. If any of those are changed than it can have a negative impact. To combat that a parent and/or caregiver must make sure to compensate for those losses if possible. To help combat this you will have to be very intentional about finding ways for your child to stay connected. This is not unlike what parents of children who are homeschooled do. If your child has friends at school, it could be helpful to encourage time where they can talk to their friends over video chat or phone. You can set up virtual play dates with their friends. Some parents have been facilitating social distance meetings with the children’s friends when appropriate. For example, you can drive your child by a friend’s house to wave to or stand outside to talk. Older kids have been wearing masks and taking a walk with their friends while keeping 6 feet apart. It would also be beneficial to keep in touch with other parents so that you can learn what others are doing to keep their kids socially connected. Establishing a routine if possible, can help keep the school day structure. Additionally, making sure you have your child take breaks throughout the day so that they can change their environment.

Transitioning to being homeschooled and doing school remotely may have its challenges, but there are still some positive sides to it. Some children get more distracted while in school due to what’s going on around them in the classroom. Remote learning allows some of those distractions to be taken away. Additionally, some children have school related anxiety that can include test anxiety or social anxiety. While at home children may feel less pressure when taking tests and less social anxiety due to not interacting with others as much.

Children may develop frustration, stress, low mood, and/or anxiety with all these new changes so it will be important for parents to monitor for warning signs that their children are experience strong emotions that warrant professional intervention. Warning signs may include; isolating more than usual, becoming irritable, lack of energy, lack of motivation, sleeping too much, unable to sleep, anxious thoughts/over worrying, low mood, flat affect, lack of enjoyment in things they otherwise would enjoy, panic attacks, tantrums, and other out of character behaviors. To be proactive, it will be beneficial to talk to your children about how to cope with those feelings that may arise. Discussing different coping skills such as taking breaks, getting exercise, and doing deep breathing with your child can help them manage those emotions. If you notice any of these symptoms and they have been occurring numerous days, then it could be beneficial to have your child talk to a professional. A professional can assist your child with processing their emotions and learning ways to cope with them.

Ultimately, it will be important for parents/caregivers and children to have self-compassion. This is a difficult time that we all are experiencing and going through together. As such, we must adjust our expectations for ourselves and others. We can’t expect to operate the same way we did pre-COVID. Self-compassion is about acknowledging that and being kind to ourselves. We must take things day-by-day and utilize the support around us. We must reach out to family, friends, schools, teachers, supervisors, etc., for support and suggestions. Parents/caregivers would especially benefit from connecting with their supervisors and the school to help manage home schooling and working. Doing this will allow them to see what support can make balancing home schooling and work easier. Your supervisor may be able to give you extensions on deadlines or time off. Additionally, teachers may also work with you and your child on deadlines and other assignments. Since we are all going through this together, we must make sure to be kind and patience with ourselves, children, and each other.

Deborah Edgefield is LCSW at MindPath Care Centers. MindPath Care Centers is a leading provider of outpatient mental and behavioral health services.

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Readers Comments (14)

  1. The majority of the students are having this challenging situation because of the workload on their shoulders.

  2. Great article about students managing stress around the upcoming school year. I am an author at the UK I also work for students.

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