A Guide to Supporting Your Child

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to countless difficulties for students since March of 2020. When it comes to change, loss, and loneliness, students already coping with mental health conditions have been especially vulnerable. The past school year has taught us about the importance of taking the necessary steps to support the social, emotional, and mental health of students. Whether you’re providing support for a child going back to in-person classes, engaging in online distance learning, or participating in a hybrid version of school, lean on this guide to navigate this challenging season.

Have Open Conversations

When children are experiencing anxiety or stress, they don’t always talk about it. During this transitional period, it’s crucial to hold space for children to express any questions or concerns that they might have surrounding the pandemic. Let them know that you are there for them, being careful not to pressure them, as children are more likely to shut down if forced into difficult conversations. It can be helpful to find positive ways for kids to communicate their feelings, such as through creativity or movement.

Teach Them Mindfulness Strategies

Social isolation, face masks, distance learning – these and more have been new and challenging experiences for students over the past year. In a world where the rules and regulations seem to change on a weekly basis, it’s only natural that children will be carrying more stress and questions. To help cope with the constant changes and questions, it can be helpful to teach and set an example of mindfulness and routine. Set children up with healthy homework, play time, mealtime, and bedtime routines. Incorporate mindful activities, such as arts and crafts, yoga, meditation, and outdoor play throughout the week. Encourage kids to limit screen time and social media, which will reduce their exposure to anxiety-inducing news or headlines.

Meet Them Where They’re At

Behavioral changes are to be expected in students. Whether they are in the classroom or at home, it’s more important than ever that adults pay attention to them, practice patience, and take the time to figure out what each child needs. The goal is to ensure that each child feels safe and valued. Teachers and guardians should make time to connect, communicate, and stay on the same page.

Whether you’re a parent, guardian, or teacher, please recognize that daily patience, communication, and routine might not be enough. Zumbro Valley Health Center is here to provide professional youth and family counseling, specifically designed to address the unique mental health issues faced by today’s youth – especially in this troublesome, confusing season. We also provide several free resources for teachers and parents to help students identify mental health issues. Visit our website or call 507.289.2089 to learn more about the ways that Zumbro Valley Health Center can help you support and encourage the young ones in your life this school year.