How to help your child deal with anxiety

6 Jan 2021

Many children are returning to school. And while some are excited, others might be anxious.

Clinical Psychologist and founder of Psych Matters, Joanna Kleovoulou, says parents should have open communication with their children about going back to school.

It is vital to acknowledge your child’s feelings and worries without making the situation worse.

“This is an opportunity for adults to model for children real-life skills of problem-solving, flexibility and understanding. Be mindful of how you and your partner speak about and how much time you spend on COVID-19 as this will contribute to your child’s fears,” says Kleovoulou.

With schools having to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations, many things that your child is familiar with would have changed when they return to school. Therefore, you have to explain the new protocols, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, to be aware of what to expect when they return to school.

“Introduce your children to mindfulness, prayers and deep breathing as a way to calm themselves. Maintain a daily schedule as much as possible as this gives everyone a sense of control and positive wellbeing,” says Kleovoulou. 

As children return to school, educators will also have the most significant task of also managing these emotions and helping their students to cope.  

SPARK Schools Head of Learning Model, Dhereshni Moodley shares how SPARK Schools will be supporting scholars’ emotional and mental well being. 

“There are several emotions that your child will be going through when going back to school. We revised the timetable to start and end the day with an emotional check-in and check out,” she says. 

Scholars will start with a classroom-based version of Sparks Fly with a specific focus on psychosocial support and a reminder of the health and safety COVID 19 rules and regulations. 

“The foundation phase ends with a care circle where scholars are encouraged to share how they feel within a safe space or let a teacher know that they need someone to speak to. The teachers have creatively come up with songs and chants to help scholars remember social distancing,” Moodley explains. She elaborates that SPARK Schools will also use the “TOOLBOX” to help scholars express themselves. 

“We have decided to use the tools because scholars are familiar with these and will find comfort in using them to manage their social distancing as well as their emotions.”

She adds that in the intermediate phase, all Life Orientation lessons are dedicated to the social-emotional support of the scholars,” says Moodley. 

Some tips on what families should focus on during this pandemic 

  • Recognise where your family is doing well. It may be challenging in the intermediate phase right now, but you have managed some things well. Think about the physical, mental, emotional, family and social struggles your family may have encountered in the last month and the proper ways your family members approached and handled those challenges;
  • Reassure them that this challenging period will not last forever;
  • Focus on what is good and what you are grateful for;
  • Focus on what you want to create, and learn to let go of things that don’t add value.