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Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health as They Return to School During COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply. While the return to school will be not only welcome but exciting for many students, others will be feeling anxious or frightened. Here are tips to help your children navigate some of the complicated emotions they may be facing with going back to school.

My child is scared to go back to school. How can I help him feel at ease?

Starting school or starting a new school year can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You can make him feel at ease by having an open conversation about what it is that’s worrying him and letting him know that it’s natural to feel anxious.

Children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to school, especially if they have been learning at home for months. Be honest – for example you could go through some of the changes they may expect at school, such as needing to wear forms of protective clothing like masks. Children may also find it difficult being physically distanced from friends and teachers while at school – you could encourage them to think about other ways to bond and stay connected.

Reassure children about safety measures in place to keep students and teachers healthy and remind children that they can also help prevent germs spreading by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into their elbow.

Remind children about the positives – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers (if they are physically returning to the classroom) and continue learning new things.

Excerpted from “Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health as They Return to School During COVID-19” from UNICEF. See the full article on the UNICEF website for more details and the answers to more questions about how parents can help children navigate the return to school:

  • My child’s school is recommending the wearing of protective clothing, which is making my child feel more nervous. What should I say to her?
  • How can I encourage my child to follow precautions (such as frequent handwashing, physical distancing, etc.) at school without alarming her?
  • My child is not part of the same group as his close friends returning to school and is feeling even more isolated. How can he feel more connected to the classroom and his friends?
  • How can I gently check in to see how my child is coping?
  • Is there anything I should look out for as my child starts back at school?
  • My child is worried about bullying at school and online, how can I talk to them about it?
Source: UNICEF | Supporting your child’s mental health as they return to school during COVID-19, https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return | © 2020 UNICEF

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families.


To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Manager at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org

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