Mental health counselor says it’s normal for parents to feel anxious about new school year

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 3:42 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Experts believe it’s normal for parents to feel more nervous or anxious about their kids returning to school compared to previous years. This school year, Amber Robertson has three kids going to school and one gearing up for daycare.

“Between all the rising COVID cases, monkeypox now being a thing in the area and the safety of the schools, I’m definitely concerned,” Robertson said.

The Bryan parent has started having conversations with her older kids to give them tools to stay safe and mentally strong. She said certain moments can be tough as she carries a bulk of the weight of those conversations as a widow, but loved ones have also been a great help to facilitate those check-ins.

“I’m having to rely on just my intuition and give my kids the tools of how to be safe,” Robertson said. “Not only as students but as young women.”

Although those conversations can be tough, mental health counselor Belinda Valenzuela said that’s what kids need, whether they’ve started school or are returning soon. She suggests using structured questions so that even younger kids may be more expressive.

“Asking ‘are you nervous about tomorrow,’ or ‘let’s talk about how you’re feeling, let’s talk about the outside and the inside, are we shaky, are we having tummy aches?’” Valenzuela said.

The licensed professional counselor recommends checking in with your kids at least twice a week to learn how they’re doing mentally and how things are going at school.

“Especially the first few weeks of the school year,” Valenzuela said. “It’s new, it’s scary on top of everything that children are going through in the last few years in our country. It’s important to keep a consistent check-in routine with your child.”

Valenzuela believes it’s also important for parents to share their emotions with their kids. The mental health counselor believes this can show children that their parents are human, which can make children more comfortable with expressing their emotions.

“Once a child understands that, they will feel safer and more comfortable speaking about their own concerns,” Valenzuela said.

If more support is needed, Valenzuela suggests seeking professional counseling or mental health resources provided by the kids’ school.

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