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What to do when your child is socially anxious or concerned about the return to school ?

The effects of COVID-19 on children A lot of young children have become worried or socially anxious throughout the pandemic. These worries are in addition to the normal concerns a child may experience when either starting or going back to school. Parents may also feel concerns about their little ones starting to be independent without them. The pandemic has caused the typical school routine and daily interaction with their friends to be disrupted at a key socially developmental stage in their lives.

Spotting the signs

The child may be tearful or apprehensive or experience physical symptoms (Such as, stomach aches and feeling sick) when they have to go into school. It is important for the adult to appreciate although it may be frustrating what is going on for the child. It is important to accept that this is just a stage in your child’s development and not necessarily a long term problem. If the child is supported correctly they will not develop a psychological problem from this experience.

How can you use the Magical Minds kit to support the back to school process?

Follow these steps:

1. Remember the Dragon/Unicorn is all caring and wise.

2. Children can tell the Dragon/Unicorn what makes them feel worried or anxious.

3. It is important that the adult believes therefore, validates the child’s feelings.

4. The Dragon/Unicorn should validate the child’s feelings by saying for example, “The Dragon /Unicorn thinks you are very brave telling me your fears”.

5. The Dragon/Unicorn can prompt the child to break down the fears by asking questions such as;

- Who will be at school ?

- What might happen?

- Who will you talk to ?

- Who will you sit with ?

6. The Dragon/ Unicorn is empowering the child. As knowledge is power and this will reduce the overwhelming emotions.

7. The Dragon/Unicorn plays the part of scripting, role playing and sending out positive messages.

8. When a child goes into school they are able to remember the positive messages the Dragon/Unicorn has said. They now have been given coping strategies.

9. Children can tell their Dragon/Unicorn how their day went after school. This enables a debriefing time for your child to process their day in a non threatening way.

Written by,

Dr Catherine Reading

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