RICHMOND, Va. -- A new year is upon us, bringing a flurry of emotions for some while others experience anxiety fueled by the pandemic.
For some children, it may just be too much.
Loss of a loved one to COVID. A surge in the new Omicron variant and debates over whether parents want to send their students back to school.
Mental health expert Lakesha Broussard says it’s critical parents do all they can to keep the lines of communication open.
If kids are anxious about returning to school, Broussard says to be sure to establish clear family guidelines about COVID and talk about it with your children.
“I think that allows the kids to be empowered, get some structure to say I feel safe going back to school because of A, B, C and D or I’m more comfortable staying home because of these reasons. I think it's going to be important to support the kids and give them the tools they need to defend their decision and feel comfortable with it” Broussard added.
Broussard is CEO of The Village Children & Family Services. She says children are always watching how parents deal with issues and often model those behaviors when they’re trying to navigate anxious moments, grief or depression.
“So, first, realize your own fears and concerns and then articulate those to your children. Say hey, I’m concerned when I go out and this is why I wear a mask. Then have those discussions where they are able to honestly vent their concerns and frustrations. Because your concerns might not be theirs,” she suggested.
Understanding things from your child’s point of view can help them create solutions. Broussard encourages asking open-ended questions, being aware of your child’s changing behavior and allowing them to honor their feelings.
“Giving them the space to have those feelings whether angry or sad and also teaching them ways to deal with it. Don’t suppress it. Let’s talk about how you feel and what are some better ways to handle that” Broussard explained.
If you are not comfortable handling that situation, experts say it’s helpful to reach out to another family member, a mental health professional or school counselor so they can assist you with finding out what’s going on with your child.