Back-to-school jitters are likely to be intense for many students this year because of pandemic-induced anxieties, psychologists have alerted parents and educators.
While students scheduled to attend school in person might worry about illness and germs, those who chose online learning might get anxious about missing milestones at school.
“Preparing children to start for school places a high level of responsibility on parents. They must address the complex emotions that their is child going through to reacquaint with new routines and structures, including the practice of physical distancing,” said Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, director of the Child Safety Department (CSD).
“An open dialogue with children is an ideal way to acknowledge their feelings, understand their specific concerns and general anxieties. Ask questions, listen carefully, and reassure them by talking about the ongoing preventative measures being implemented across the UAE. Parents also ought to instil in them the importance of staying vigilant and safe,” she added.
Parents should remind their wards to look forward to reuniting with their friends and classmates as they move up to the next grade, said psychologists. Students must be encouraged to communicate freely about their new ‘adventures’ or ‘difficulties’.
“Many may have been aware of a relative or friend seriously unwell or parents who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Such pupils may seem sad, withdrawn, anxious or angry. A key challenge will be identifying what children’s experiences of lockdown have been and the volume of safeguarding concerns that are likely to arise as kids begin opening up to their teachers,” said Tooba Siddiqui, clinical psychologist at Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic.
Some children would be excited to get back to school while some would be apprehensive about the return to school under the new normal especially after a prolonged period of staying at home. “Parents can show videos to younger children for a better understanding of safety measures. It’s important for the kids to be prepared to see their teachers and staffs in masks as well. Even sports and playtime would be different this year as the coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily routines. Therefore, reassure children about safety measures to keep students and teachers healthy,” said Dr Mohamed Yousaf, specialist psychiatrist at Aster Clinic – Mutheena.
“Schools are not just for academics; it’s also how they grow mentally,” he added.
How to enlighten kids about germs and infections
Make sure to teach younger children about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there, said Tooba Siddiqui, Clinical Psychology, Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic.
“Put flour on your child’s hands and show them how it settles into the cracks and creases of our hands. Or put glitter on your child’s hands and have them wash with just water to show them how much glitter stays on their hands. Teach children a song to sing while washing hands. When children understand why they need to wash their hands, they’re likely to continue doing so,” she said.
Source: Khaleej Times
Mr. Gabriel Rafi
- Graduated in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology from University Paris Descartes, France.