As much as children and parents struggled to adjust to homeschooling when the COVID pandemic started, your children may experience separation anxiety as they head back to school. You can take some simple steps that may help ease the anxiety that your child feels if they face COVID-related separation anxiety.
Prepare for Separation Anxiety
Talk with your child about changes that will occur when they return to the classroom. Remember that a child in the second grade only had about six months of regular schooling before the pandemic hit, and younger students have never had a typical school day. Older students may be anxious over changes that have been made at home or on campus. Listen to your child’s fears and expectations so that you can support them in the best way possible.
Provide a Reminder
Your child needs a reminder that you love them. While this can be a small photo or another keepsake they can keep in their pocket, it can also be a unique smell. Consider combining an essential oil with a carrier oil and rubbing it on their wrist in the morning. Then, whenever they miss you throughout the day, they can sniff their wrist.
Get Them Involved in Other Activities
In the days leading up to the first day of school, look for opportunities for your child to reconnect with some of their classmates. This may be at a house of worship or daycare where special children’s programming occurs. For older children, it may be getting involved in a 4-H, Girl or Boy Scout project.
Separation anxiety is like a sliding scale. One moment, your child may seem perfectly OK, and the next moment, they may be missing you like crazy. For most children, the time spent missing you will become less every day, so be patient. If you notice that the sadness seems overwhelming the child most of the day, it may be time to seek professional help.
Recognize Your Emotions
Children are great at recognizing when you are upset about something, and you may feel yourself experiencing separation anxiety as your child heads back to school. Find an adult friend that you can talk to about what you are feeling. Be open with your children, but be sure to keep it positive that everything will be OK.
Communicate With the School
This is the perfect time to open lines of communication with the school. Check-in regularly with your children’s teachers to see how they are doing and how your student is progressing. Be sure to offer grace to the teacher because they are adjusting to the best of their ability to a whole new set of rules.
Separation anxiety is normal as children head back to school. Communication is key to finding workable solutions for everyone.