ORLANDO, Fla. - School this year could lead to a lot of anxiety and stress for both students and parents.
"I have a little anxiety about all of it, but my daughter wants to go back to school," Dania Utreras, a parent, said. No matter what route you pick for your child to return to school, stress and anxiety could be a problem.
Thankfully though, there are strategies that parents can use to reduce stress. FOX 35 spoke with a licensed mental health counselor, Shantala Boss, about how to identify warning signs of stress and anxiety in both parents and kids.
"There is a lot of things parents are dealing with and if they’re sending their kids back to school there is high anxiety about what that means. If someone in the classroom were to get COVID, what would happen then, would their child need to come home how do they deal with those stressors with their schedule and their child’s schedule," she said. “A lot of times our concerns with school are completely different than our children’s so we may start talking with them about what we’re concerned about and how to deal with that but it may be something completely different.”
As parents work to manage their own stress, Dr. Boss says it is important for them to pay attention to their child's stress too. She says to look out for three warnings signs:
- FIGHT: Dr. Boss explained that "fight means they become more aggressive, more angry a lot of times when kids are anxious or worried, it’ll show as anger.”
- FLIGHT: She added that "flight would be avoidance. I don’t want to go to school. I have a stomach ache. I don’t feel okay."
- FREEZE: Then the final sign she says is "freeze would be regression. So, if we had a child acting younger than themselves, baby talk, clingy.”
The best way to alleviate back-to-school stress is to identify what is causing it and then brainstorming with your child about how to fix it, Dr. Boss said.
She also advises that parents give themselves self-care time and that "being in tune with their own emotions and knowing that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s okay to have anxiety. That they aren’t alone.
Another tip Dr. Boss had for parents was to keep kids on a routine if they are virtually learning. Get them up at the same time everyday to start school. It will work to help manage stress.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the rest of the FOX 35 Classroom Survival Guide as schools prepare to reopen.