Children across the country heaved a sigh of relief as their schools reopened after nearly two years of remote learning. However, re-adjusting to the ‘old normal’ hasn’t been a smooth ride as many of them, especially smaller kids have developed social anxiety and are hesitating to interact with teachers and peers apart from missing being with their parents. Experts are saying that many children are also not comfortable facing too many people and are anxious about catching the virus and falling ill. (Also read: Parenting tips: Handling children’s aggression and tantrums as schools reopen)
“Children may face anxiety issues. After almost two years of being reminded to keep their distance from other people, keep their masks on, and wash their hands, it’s not surprising that some children continue to feel excessive concern about catching the virus. The difficulty level increases for the kids who had some social anxiety before the pandemic,” says Dr Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.
Things are even tougher for children who could not get an opportunity to start their learning process with playschools and have been sent straightaway to formal schools. Besides, parents too are excessively concerned about the development of their children which could inadvertently be transferring their anxiety to the little ones.
“The parents need to lessen their expectations from the little ones and realize that this is going to be hard for them,” says Dr Gupta.
“Additionally, the parents should understand that social skills, like other skills, get rusty when we don’t practice them,” adds the expert.
Tips to ease ‘back-to-school anxiety’
Here are some steps that could help your child re-adjust to social life.
* Increase normal experiences in a safe and developmentally sensitive way. Try to increase your child’s comfort levels gradually
* Start encouraging independence by practicing small periods of separation, especially for the kids who are having trouble separating from parents
* Converse more with your child about feeling social anxiety. Let them know that such feelings are normal
* It is helpful to start small and build. Help your child put themselves out there. Repeated exposure to a feared stimulus is one of the best ways to decrease anxiety
* Always remember to praise your child after they complete the activity so they know how proud you are.
* With time, patience, and support most children will successfully navigate the transition to a post-pandemic normal. But it’s also important for parents to know when to seek help for their children.