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Tips On Dealing With Back-to-School Anxiety

Image: Pixabay.

Jennifer Marsh

Herald Staff

During the COVID-19 crisis, the most difficult part for families is the uncertainty the constant changes in guidelines brings, said Susan Turner, a licensed psychological practitioner and founder of Children and Family Counseling Associates in Harrodsburg.

“These are uncertain times and that creates a significant anxiety with all of us. That is normal and to be expected. Our role as parents, teachers, therapists, etc. is to help our children navigate these times while struggling with our own doubts, fears and worries,” said Turner. “The most important piece of advice I could offer is to be positive!  Be positive while talking to your children about this important decision.”

Turner said positivity is important in all aspects especially when children are listening.

“Be positive when discussing the decision with friends and family. Children are always listening,” said Turner.  “Be positive when posting on-line about your feelings and/or decisions.”

Turner said the decision most families are struggling with right now is how their child should return to school. The data on COVID-19 cases changes daily and is very inconsistent requiring organizations such as schools to update policies and procedures rapidly.

“As parents work with information that is changing daily, take into account the individual personalities of your children.  At the time that I am writing this, there are currently three basic choices for our children’s education in the fall: virtual learning, home schooling and face to face learning,” said Turner. “ Having two children myself with two very different personalities, I may have made two different decisions as to how they will return to learning next year.”

Turner suggests parents make a list of the pros and cons for each child on each option. Once parents have made a decision on what format the learning will take, they should see what can be done to minimize any “cons” on the list.

“For example, if you chose in-person learning and one of the items on your “con” list is exposure to COVID-19, flu, strep or other illness, perhaps you begin working with your child now on improved hygiene, practice social distancing and wearing a mask,” said Turner.  “If you chose home schooling or virtual learning and missing out on socialization with other children is on your “con” list, consider joining a small group.  You could check out local home schooling groups or social groups like Character Quest ~ Adventures in Therapy at Children and Family Counseling Associates, Inc. or create your own small group in your family or neighborhood.”

Thursday, Sept. 3, is the Mercer County School start date but with cases increasing in the county many parents have expressed concern not just with the changes to the school year but the uncertainty that comes with COVID-19’s ever changing guidelines.  Mercer County schools are trying to address concerns in multiple ways.

“We have a dedicated webpage specifically to address questions from parents about all the new options,” said Dennis David, superintendent of Mercer County Schools. “In addition we will have a Facebook live answer session every Wednesday at 3 p.m. up to the start of school”

Davis hopes this will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety for parents as they make these difficult decisions.

For more information on how to address anxiety contact a school counselor or call CAFCA at 733-924.

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