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You Are Not Alone: Dealing with back-to-school anxieties

Posted at 4:45 AM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 07:45:16-04

If the mixed messages about masking up have you feeling anxious, you are not alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now suggesting everyone wear a mask indoors but because of an Arizona law, students don't have to wear a mask at school.

To navigate what may feel stressful for parents and kids heading back to school, ABC15's Kaley O'Kelley talked with a Valley-based psychologist.

"Even if you are feeling scared or nervous or anxious and apprehensive as a parent, that's OK, but really try and shield your anxieties from your child."

Dr. Emily Basha says children absorb what parents are feeling.

She also says, if parents are visibly stressed-out or emotional in front of their children, it can make their back-to-school jitters even worse.

Instead, she suggests finding ways to remain calm together.

The doctor says to begin by taking deep breaths together. This can give children coping skills for life.

"If they can see your face relaxing, maybe holding their hand, looking at them in the eyes, getting close to them, that connection is so important, reminding them that they're not alone."

Dr. Basha also says it's important to share encouraging words with children about being back in the classroom.

She also suggests talking about the excitement of seeing old friends and meeting new friends, too.

And she says finding active ways to listen to children can be a major difference-maker for everyone at home.

"Help reassure the child. Say things like, 'this is what we know for now. We're going to be able to get through this together. We're not the only ones that are affected by this, we're in this together.'"

Finally, Dr. Basha says before the kids are potentially sent home to quarantine -- proactive parents who have a backup plan in place will end up feeling less anxious and a lot more confident as we work through this pandemic together.