Handling Kids’ Concerns about Heading Back to Class

Ethan Benore, PhD, has tips for easing anxiety in kids who may be heading back to class after an extended period of online learning.

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CLEVELAND – It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for students.

Many kids have spent months learning from home due to COVID-19.

And some of them may be returning back to class in the weeks ahead — which is sure to cause some anxiety.

“Let them know what it’s going to look like. What are the changes going to be? Not in a scary way, but in a matter of fact way,” said Ethan Benore, PhD, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “They’re going to be doing temperature checks. People are going to be wearing masks. You may have some scheduled seating. Things are going to look a little bit different.”

Dr. Benore adds you’ll want to let children know they’re safe and that the school is making these changes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

For example, you can explain that wearing a mask is a lot like having to wash your hands, or looking both ways before crossing the street.

He said it’s also important to check in on a child’s mental health during this time.

“If you’re having these conversations regularly, it doesn’t feel so weird when there is a problem,” said Dr. Benore. “If you have a thought or a concern, ask, bring it up. If it’s nothing, that’s okay. But your child might feel even more comfortable if they come back to you two weeks later and there is something there.”

He said a lot of people are struggling right now, so be sure to show compassion, not only with your own kids but with their teachers too because they’re dealing with the same kinds of challenges.

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