Updated: May 31
We really wanted 2022 to be a normal year. There would have been nothing greater than sending our children off to childcare, kinder or school knowing that all was going to go smoothly. That quite clearly isn’t the case. Yet again we all have to be flexible and adaptable in navigating this new COVID wave. There is undoubtedly further angst as we respond to the increasing number of infections, reduced access to tests and the challenge of the vaccination process.
Parents and children may feel nervous or reluctant about the return to school but these following tips should help!
Keep your cool
As with any challenging or stressful situation, children will follow our lead. We have to present as being calm and considerate in our response to the changes that we have to navigate. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking which can result in anger and anxiety. We can all agree that this is a less-than-ideal situation but remember it is important to focus our energy on what we can control.
Consider the facts
We want our children to feel okay about returning to kinder or school. Using the knowledge we have about managing our health in these settings is the key. Reminding children to follow the rules around masks and handwashing gives them some strategies to feel like they have some control. Keep in mind that children who do contract COVID usually experience only mild symptoms. We need to follow the information presented by reputable sources such as the Royal Children's Hospital.
Try to find the positives
Chat with your child about how good it will be to see their friends and be in a classroom or in the playground. Yes, wearing masks is annoying, but let’s decorate them to make them feel more personal. Kindergartens, childcare and educational settings will have children spend more sessions outside which can mean more time for fun activities and games.
Engaging with others is so important to our children’s development. Don’t let your anxiety about Omicron impact decision-making. Children need to have access to friends, education and social opportunities. Whilst some of your child’s friends may have had COVID or may or may not be vaccinated, we need those relationships to flourish without judgement.
We all cope better when we have geared up our bodies and how brains to start the new term. Start getting into a routine now to help with the transition, that goes for parents and children.
Adjust bedtime and wake ups to model the school day. For younger children try to mirror the afternoon nap time that occurs at childcare. Make sure as a family we get changed and eat breakfast together on these last few days of Jan.
Use lunch boxes with “school food” for snacks and lunch. Begin to reduce screen time or return to your school term rules around device use.
Provide Realistic Information
Given the changing times and challenges that may present with staffing and isolation it is important that you don’t over promise. Whilst ambiguity increases anxiety, we need to provide our children with the knowledge that we have at this time. We can’t promise them that the everything is going to be "normal” for the whole term. Instead, have conversations that include “this is what we know at the moment..” or “the rules for this week mean that …”.
This article was written by our Child Psychologist Expert Deirdre Brandner
We hope these tips were helpful, we would love for you to share with friends and family. Thinking of all of our Parents You've Got This Village during these challenging times.
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