As schools reopen to all pupils, The Young People’s Counselling Service is here to support young people and their families with the transition.
Tips for parents:
Listen to and validate your child’s feelings
Reassure your child that it’s okay to feel nervous, worried, upset or unsure about returning to school. Telling children not to worry or that it will all be okay can make them more anxious or feel unheard.
When children have returned to school, you could try a check-in with your child at a quiet time to explore how their day went and address any concerns that they might have.
Prepare your child for change
Discuss how school might look and feel different, such as being in ‘bubbles’, possible use of face masks/PPE, changes to which lessons are on which days, and having a different lunch or break time. You and your child could draw up a visual timetable of their new school day and who is in their ‘bubble.’
Establish a routine
Predictability can reduce stress and remind children that their environment is loving and secure. Set bed and wake-up times so they can get adequate rest. Involve your child in a ‘getting ready for school’ routine by having them help make their packed lunch or setting out their school clothes for the morning. Being part of what is happening can help children feel more in control and make sense of the changes, and less like events are being thrust upon them.
Look at the positives
While it is important to hear the worries and concerns of children, we can help by encouraging them to focus on the positive aspects of their day too. What went well? What did they have fun doing? Did they have the opportunity to try anything new? Questions such as these can help children acknowledge that although they’ve had worries or difficult feelings, they’ve also been able to have fun, enjoy themselves and learn.
We also have a ‘Back to School Butterflies’ pack available to help parents and teachers work with children to understand and manage their worries. Please contact The Young People’s Counselling Service at email@example.com for your free copy.
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please visit www.ypcs.uk to find out what support we can offer.