Back-to-school anxiety in kids is normal, especially during a pandemic

Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:23 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Parents have many questions about the school year and their children’s well-being. Anxiety in kids is one of those concerns.

“Anxiety is okay. It’s okay if you’re afraid. It’s okay that you’re worried about this,” said Anne Hindrichs, executive director at McMains Children’s Developmental Center.

Hindrichs, an experienced counselor, knows anxiety in children stemming from this new type of school year is normal. Whether they’re afraid of getting sick or sad they can’t see their friends like they used to, Hindrichs says it’s okay.

“It can be scary, but the important thing is to remember to talk about it,” she said.


She wants families to talk about these feelings, like former Iberville educator and proud uncle, Gerald Williams, did with his nephew.

“He said if we he were to go to school, he gave me both sides. ‘If I go to school, I’m going to practice social distancing. I’m going to wash my hands. I’m going to do what the teacher tells me to do,’” Williams said. “Because he said, ‘I’ll be able to see some of my friends.’”

Williams knows kids might be nervous right now, but at the end of the day, they’re resilient.

“Children, they’re going to make the best of everything,” said the former educator. “As adults, we stress, we worry and all of those things, but children, they always make the best of everything.”

So if you notice some anxious behavior in your kids, Hindrichs recommends you look at your own feelings first. Kids tend to mirror mom and dad.

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“If they notice a parent is feeling nervous about something, then they are more likely to feel that as well,” said Hindrichs.

She says to check in with your kids. Ask them what’s going on and help them understand that things are different, but will be okay.

“I truly believe that every educator is going to take every precaution to make sure every child is safe,” said Williams.

Both Williams and Hindrichs have worked closely with kids over the years; they know back-to-school anxiety in this pandemic is possible, but overall, they encourage hope.

“Continue to have hope and know things will get better,” said Williams.

“The other hope too is to get through this first semester, then see what the second semester brings,” said Hindrichs.

One exercise Hindrichs likes kids to try when they feel anxious is to take a breath and say, “I’m safe,” then have them use their five senses to identify what’s around them.

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