Whether kids are returning to school in-person, virtually or in a combination of the two, parents are having to juggle a lot physically and emotionally.
10TV spoke with Wendy BeMiller, a licensed professional clinical counselor and the regional director at OhioGuidestone, who said a lot of those emotions are coming out in her work with parents.
“We’re seeing a large increase in anxiety, definitely in children but also in parents, and I think it’s important to remember that there’s normal anxiety that comes with kids going back to school anyway; making sure they have all their supplies that they need, making sure that their schedules are set, but then when you add a pandemic to the mix, it adds a whole different level of anxiety for parents,” BeMiller said.
While recognizing that anxiety is important, coping with it is too, she said.
“It’s important for kids to know that adults can have anxiety too but it’s also important for parents not to pass their anxiety on to their children,” BeMiller said.
One way parents can help ease their own anxiety is by working to prepare their kid for what to expect, she said. That can include open communication about what school may look like if they are returning in-person, to practicing wearing a mask ahead of time.
For parents given the option to decide between in-person or virtual learning, BeMiller suggests focusing on what the right decision is for each individual family, acknowledging that everyone’s circumstances are different.
“Maybe a parent has to go back to work so they’re kind of in a position where they have to send their child back to school. Making that decision can be difficult,” BeMiller said. “It might be anxiety-provoking but it’s also what’s needed for the family at that moment and being able to make that decision without feeling guilty.”
Finally, for families who are working with a virtual learning model laid out by the district, BeMiller tells 10TV the best thing parents can do is to trust their parental instinct on what is best for their child.
“Doing the best you can is the most important thing,” she said. “Knowing that you’re, in a lot of cases, you’re not a teacher and you’re not going to be a substitute for your child’s teacher, however, you also know your child better than anyone else and just working with them as best you can to give them all the knowledge that you have and the knowledge that the school is providing for you, in the best way possible.”