School and Stress

Every child faces challenges when returning to school after the summer break. Current health challenges in the world can also have an impact on the stress a child experiences. Young people can experience worry about contracting COVID-19 and absorb stress from others around them, as many are learning in different ways, and dealing with social isolation. Overwhelming stress can have negative effects on young people and can sometimes lead to more serious issues like depression and anxiety. Providing support to your child can help with having a smooth transition back to school, whether it is virtual or face to face.  

• Talk to your child: Depending on their age and understanding of COVID-19, young people can experience stress or worry related to contracting the virus themselves or spreading it to those they care about. Talking to your child about the virus can help parents and guardians gain an understanding of how they are feeling. Stress surrounding the virus may look like extreme preoccupation with the topic or fear of participating in approved activities, even when appropriate safety precautions are taken. If your child is experiencing these thoughts regularly and it is impacting their daily life, contact your pediatrician or a mental health professional for support.

 Set the tone: Just like adults, children can absorb the stress and negative emotions from those around them. Stress that adults are experiencing can rub off onto kids and be expressed through agitation, crying spells, and increased arguing. While adults understand that their stress and frustration is coming from work, bills, child care, virtual learning, and family members being on top of one another, many children have difficulty understanding where their emotions come from and are unable to regulate them. Talk to your children about the stress, frustration, or anger they are feeling. Help them to put words to their emotions. Validate how they feel and be a role model for healthy expression and coping.

 Be flexible: Even though we consider kids to be flexible, virtual learning/distance learning is a new way of learning for them and may create feelings of nervousness or stress. They will most likely need extra patience from adults, consistency and routine, as well as frequent brain breaks to move around. Have an age appropriate, open dialogue with your child about their own feelings, stress, and frustrations surrounding virtual learning and develop ways to support them as they take on a new way of learning.

 Seek support: The lack of social interaction with their friends and peers can have a negative impact on their mood. Boredom, frustration, sadness, and even depression can be caused or exacerbated by feelings of isolation. Talk to your child about how they are feeling and work as a family to decide how to safely combat feelings of social isolation. If your child is experiencing prolonged sadness, lacks motivation, or suffers from other, more severe symptoms, contact your pediatrician or a mental health professional for support. 

 Other tips:

o Communicate with your child’s teacher regularly: If there’s anything going on at home that might affect your child’s learning, let the teacher know. Many teachers have set days and times they can communicate with families to discuss concerns and answer questions.  

o Stay organized: Organization leads to less stress. Create a separate area where your child does their schoolwork, utilize folders to organize classwork/homework for each subject, and develop a calendar with due dates for assignments.

o Set and settle into a routine: If your child is distance learning, it’s helpful if you can create a routine that’s similar to what they would experience if they were attending school in person. Routines should begin when your child wakes up in the morning.  

o Create and develop ways your child can relieve stress: Everyone can become frustrated and overwhelmed at times and children are no exception. Providing opportunities for your child to identify these feelings and developing ways to manage them can help with self-control and decrease their stress levels. This could include, but is not limited to, fidget tools, stress balls, journals, and listening to music.

Additional resources and tips can be found at: