Online Schooling has relieved anxiety for some –
Learning from home has been a pleasant relief for many students who struggle socially at school or have extreme anxiety. The various triggers that going to school presents for them have been eliminated. Online school offers limited peer and adult contact with less pressure to perform in casual conversations. Plus, kids are able to regulate their connections with others–who, what, where and how–which further reduces social anxiety.
Transitioning to In-Person School –
When thinking about transitioning to in-person school, parents of kids who have been thriving at home need to consider this issue of control. Many kids who struggle socially feel forced to interact with peers or adults on terms that don’t work for them and at times that are more frequent than they would otherwise choose. They will feel heightened anxiety by the prospect of having to endure or perform in these situations again. As parents, you have to help them remember other times of success in their lives–times when they were able to overcome their nervousness and do something anyway. Anxiety creates amnesia about these successes so we’ve got to bring them into awareness. Brainstorm or review with your son or daughter previous experiences and how they can apply those skills to the current situation. Write these down so you can refer to them in the future.
Role-Play Now –
Practice a few phrases that your child or teen can say in common interactions with peers. Talk about their primary concerns and brainstorm responses. For example, if they are feeling overwhelmed to respond and don’t know how, identify a sentence or two they can use such as “I’m not sure. Let me think about it and get back to you.” Role-plays are very helpful for learning what to say, remembering those words and building confidence. The more general the response, the easier it will be for them to recall and use the phrases. Sometimes kids can overfocus on what to say exactly and when to say it. We want to give them a tool that’s appropriate in several situations so they don’t feel more anxiety about remembering which sentence they need to use.