Helping Kids Readjust to New School Environments in the Midst of COVID-19

For kids in school this Fall, my hope and prayer is that a sense of comfortable familiarity will begin to return for our children. Opportunities for kids to do outdoor activities, school programming and socializing are arising again, and I encourage parents to begin asking themselves, “how can I help my child(ren) get back to feeling normal?” While we often speak on the harmful behavioral health effects this pandemic has had on adults, we can’t forget to emphasize the potential trauma it has had on many of our young family members and those who are in the developmental stage of their life.

The sad reality is this: many of our children experienced real trauma during the pandemic. We may have the belief that “children are resilient” and that they can more easily adjust to the challenges life throws at them. Here at Aspire Health, we have found that for children to become adjusted to habits and routines, they need help from their parents, guardians and caregivers more than ever to make this transition out of the pandemic.

With our society reopening and our lifestyles changing once again, our children may need our gentle encouragement to get back to good habits and to get their own behavioral health back on track. Seemingly simple activities like playing, going outside, and connecting with peers may be hard for young people to get used to again. This is a reality that families must face together, and we want to be a part by helping you with this.

I want to encourage you, if you are a parent, guardian or someone who works with kids, to think about the following three steps over the next few weeks to help make a difference in the lives of the children all around you:

  1. Take a minute to assess where your child was before the pandemic, from a mental and physical standpoint, and how they are doing now as the pandemic closes. Recall where they stood with habits, friendships, and activities. Do they need a nudge in some of these areas? If so, I encourage you to create a list of areas to work on and help them with that process.
  2. Give your kids room and patience to readjust. It’s so important that we guide them in the right direction and push them back toward normalcy while also understanding that these adjustments may take time. We’re all going to be a work in progress this summer, and our children are no different.
  3. Learn to listen and observe closely to what our kids are telling us. What frustrations have they been subtly communicating to you as they try to readjust their lives? Young people will often tell us what they want and what they need; don’t hesitate to ask them, but more importantly, be attentive and open to hearing them in their language.

My hope is that parents and kids alike can quickly get back to feeling normal, and back to healthy habits that may have been lost amidst quarantines and social distancing. But we at Aspire Health Partners know this: these things take time, restoring our community will take time, and only through patience and grace can we heal together after this traumatic pandemic experience.