4 Ways to Nurture your Child’s Mental Health During the Pandemic

These certainly are unprecedented times; the last nine months have been a huge learning curve for many of us. Parents have been forced to make adjustments to their jobs, and the way the school day looks for our kids has vastly changed.

Many districts are giving students the option to learn remotely at home, or opt for the conventional in-person model. After months of mulling over the two options, I decided to choose the in-person option. 

Despite a return to some semblance of normalcy, it’s still a far cry from the way it was pre-pandemic. While it’s undoubtedly been a lesson in patience, the kids have adjusted well to the changes. 

We are now heading into month three of in-class learning during COVID-19, and I think we have a pretty good routine going. If your child is having difficulty embracing school during the pandemic, continue reading for some tips to ensure a successful school year.

1) Addressing COncerns

Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is a vital step to ensuring a smooth transition. Your child may have concerns surrounding the virus or may be having a hard time adjusting to the changes at school.

Try taking a factual approach with them and limit expressing your opinion, which is usually emotion-based. I reminded my kids that school was probably one of the safest places they could be due to the additional cleaning, mask-wearing, and social distancing. And finally, I explained that if any of us did get the virus, we would deal with it, and we would get better.

2) Teacher Communication

Staying in the loop, and frequently connecting with your child’s teacher can really lessen your anxiety. My kids’ teachers communicate with parents by utilizing user-friendly apps; having one place where all of the messages go is a helpful organizational tool and doesn’t require the exchanging of any potentially germ-ridden papers.

If you’re feeling stressed or confused about anything school-related, reach out to your child’s teacher, they might be able to alleviate some of your anxiety.

3) Consistent Sleep Schedule

This is a huge one for our family! I had no idea how tired the kids would be once they went back to school, after a six-month hiatus. The first few days back my kids were awful—really irritable and grumpy. They’d gone from a fairly unstructured environment to one with many new rules—including wearing a mask for five hours a day.

That’s when it dawned on me that they were still working on “summer hours,” which resulted in them having varied times that they would go to bed. Once we focused on having a predictable and consistent bedtime routine, the emotionally driven meltdowns began to subside.

4) Occasional Breaks

Let’s face it, the world is a chaotic place right now, and our little ones are feeling it too! I have found that occasional breaks from school are important—especially with the mask mandate in class. The extensive list of protocols, combined with the heightened sense of fear is exhausting for our kids.

I have found that it’s been tremendously helpful to have a “mental health day.” A day in addition to the weekend that they can de-mask and decompress. While the kids have been doing an excellent job following the mask mandate at their school, I have noticed that prolonged mask wearing has some negative aspects. They get sores behind their ears and across the bridge of their nose, not to mention the strain it puts on their voice from having to speak louder. Sometimes, a break is in order.

Moving Forward…

Now more than ever, it’s critical for us to understand that even though there are things out of your control, there are ways to reduce anxiety. The 2020/21 school is the most unconventional thus far, but with a few adjustments, you can ensure a successful academic year for your little one.

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