Back to school anxiety in a pandemic: Expert says how parents can handle it

We know there is some adjustments when it comes to back to school time. We've discussed the sleep schedules and now we're looking at how to just calm the nerves.

We know kids are all different in how they handle stress and anxiety, and for some - depending on their age - and what they're dealing with, going back to school might be causing extra challenges.

The first day of school is just around the corner and some kids may be nervous about heading back to class - especially if they spent the last year learning remote.

"I think schools have really learned a lot about how to calm kids’ anxieties and their worries and how to help keep them safe, but again, be prepared," said Dr. Vanessa Jensen, Cleveland Clinic Children's. "These kids have not been around other kids. it’s almost like when a new child goes to daycare for the first time."

Doctor Vanessa Jensen is a pediatric psychologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. She says if your child is feeling nervous, it’s perfectly normal.

Her advice is to be sure to offer them reassurance - and remind them that other kids are going through the same changes.

You could also help them get used to socializing again by doing some back-to-school shopping or taking them to a restaurant. 
That way they know it’s okay to be around other people.

And if they ask you about wearing masks or vaccines, Jensen says to make sure your explanations are simple and to the point.

"Don’t feel like as parents you have to give them the $10,000 explanation that goes into the vaccines and the immune system and whatever," Jensen said. "As kids get older, they’ll ask questions if they have questions. Little kids, they need the little bits, that say, ‘We want you to do this, it’s important to us.’ And most kids do want to please mom and dad at that age."

Jensen says it’s also important for parents not to minimize their child’s concerns. for example, if they keep looking for reasons why they can’t go to school, then it may be worth talking to a medical professional.