Melanie Allan, our School Counsellor, has been working throughout lockdown to support our ESMS families. While most of us will have responded to news of schools going back with a huge sigh of relief, Melanie is aware that in some ways, this latest stage of the pandemic is perhaps the hardest of all.
Change of any form can be challenging, even for a resilient community like ESMS, and we all need to take a breath and give ourselves time to adjust. It is important to remember that these are still abnormal times, so Melanie has highlighted some emotions that your child might experience, alongside some tips for managing these emotions.
Some of the normal emotions and feelings your child might be going through
- Anxiety: Many assume that the gradual lifting of restrictions will make life feel easier but it is important to remember that your family has been in survival mode for a year. The stop-start nature of the restrictions can be been particularly hard for young people to manage. It is only when things come to an end that we allow ourselves to acknowledge the loss and be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling and coping. So don't be surprised if you see an increase in anxiety levels within your family. This is perfectly normal given what we have all gone through.
- Insecurity: While most pupils will be thrilled to be back in schools, some pupils will find the return to school and the semblance of “normal” life a difficult transition. It is normal for social anxiety to be high, with many pupils feeling conscious of how they look and interact with their friends after several weeks of lockdown. Social skills may be rusty and confidence a little wobbly but they will return, and as they do these initial anxieties and teething issues will disappear. In the meantime it is important to give them time to adjust.
- Disappointment: Expectations will be high after months of online learning. For example, children will have fantasised about being around their friends again for weeks and it would not be unusual if the reality does not quite live up to their expectations.
What can you do to support your child?
- Encourage your child to talk about how they are feeling. Reflect what you can see and hear back to your child and reassure them that these feelings are normal. If your child is younger and is struggling to express themself, you could try getting them to draw or write about their feelings. This is also a good way of putting things into perspective. Focusing on the positives is equally important so when you sit down together at mealtimes ask everyone to think about what has gone well that day
- Change is tiring and your child will be exhausted in the first few weeks so it’s a good idea to avoid too much activity at weekends to give them a chance to rest. Reintroducing familiar routines and rituals can create an important anchor for children, including regular bedtimes and mealtimes
- Try and find time to do an outside activity with your child. The fresh air and exercise will be good for both of you and it can be often easier to talk about the things that are on their mind when you are not face-to-face
- You will have said it numerous times before but it is worth reiterating that these are extraordinary times and it is normal to be feeling discombobulated. Remind them of how well they have coped with all the challenges so far and most importantly…this too shall pass.
Remember that the school has a range of ways to support your child. If you have any concerns about your child, always remember that the school is there to help and get in contact with your child’s class teacher or guidance teacher or make an appointment with me, to have a chat.