Judith Zucker, LCSW
Our Children, School, and COVID-19
Since the rise of COVID-19 this past March, we have lost a lot and our children have lost a lot.
The ongoing uncertainty and concern about returning to our familiar way of life has created growing anxiety in both parents and children.
Just the simple and familiar ritual of going back to school has been taken away.
Children live with specific fundamental assumptions:
The World Is Safe.
The Crisis is Will End.
I Can Depend on My Parents and Grown-ups To Know What To Do.
Parents and Grown-ups Will Make Everything Better.
Young minds incorporate these fundamental assumptions to make sense of their world.
But the world we are living in now does not make sense. The fundamental assumptions that we know are not working for our children nor for ourselves.
We have been on an emotional roller coaster which echoes the stages of grief we experience with traditional losses.
DENIAL: “This will be over soon. We can plan for when it is over.”
ANGER and BLAME: “Other countries caused this, the government is not fixing it, the health care system is failing us, and this should not be happening in our country!”
GUILT: “I don’t know how to manage this situation and I should know. I am a parent and I’m supposed to know how to make things better.” If there was a death in the family during COVID-19, the extra guilt and regret includes not having had the opportunity to say goodbye or say our last words.
BARGAINING: “I’m sure if we do what we are told, things will improve.” Talking to God and making a promise to do better in some way assures us He can make it go away.
HOPELESSNESS: “Things aren’t getting better. There isn’t a solution, so why keep hoping it will change?” The feeling of being lost, confused, with no path to a real conclusion, a continued sense that our lives will never get back to what they were.
ACCEPTANCE: Realizing that we can only control what each day brings in our life. Understanding that we can contribute in ways that are helpful to others. Recognizing that ultimately, we cannot make the virus disappear and that we will learn to adapt to it.
You may see your children regress emotionally. If they go back to school in person, or virtually, or a combination of both, they may be unsure, frightened, or even resist going to school.
Some signs that a child is moving backwards emotionally:
Over-Attachment: To a person, to their home, or a comforting object such as a stuffed animal.
Self-Isolating and Reluctance to Attach: Acting withdrawn, depressed, and/or showing loss of their usual spirit.
Hyper-vigilance: Preoccupation with germs and/or exposure to people or places.
Inattention: Easily distracted as though on guard for something they need to watch out for.
Increased Sensitivity: Frequent crying, worrying, staying in their room, reacting unusually emotionally to others or to television stories or games, etc.
Flat or Numb: Behaves in an uninvolved way, quiet, distant, differently detached.
Our children, like ourselves, need reassurance and comfort. And above all, they need our patience. Keeping our own fears and anxiety managed is a gift to our children.
Knowing when to reach out for help is also a gift. Neither you nor your children need to navigate this situation alone. It helps to talk. There are ways to cope that are positive and helpful.
Reach our for help even if it’s just a passing thought.
Join my online community for updates on support groups and additional resources.
I will keep you in the loop of what is available for receiving support from me.
If you would like to talk about an area of your life you are struggling with, let me know. We can easily schedule a short 15-minute chat to explore how I might support you.
You do not have to struggle alone. I am here to help.