THERE will have been mixed reactions from children and young people being told they are heading back to the classrooms next week.

For some kids, it’s a return to structure, seeing friends, social contact, a chance to stretch their wings - and for quite a few parents it’s a collective sigh of relief and they put the house back together and put down the spinning plates.

There is another side; children who are anxious about the return, young people who are still scared of Covid, worried about what the testing will be like, scared that they will bring a virus back home.

Likewise there are also parents who feel vulnerable, not yet having been vaccinated, concerned about their health once schools return. All reactions to the pandemic are valid, there has been much division in our communities as we all try to find our way through what has been a particularly horrific time.

Young people going back might need support:

Look out for changes

York Press: Children might be anxious about being behind with work.Children might be anxious about being behind with work.

It’s sometimes hard for children to communicate to us how they feel, sometimes they don’t fully understand their own feelings and this can leave them confused and overwhelmed. Changes in behaviours like sleeping patterns, eating patterns and changes to their normal behaviour could let you know that they are finding this readjustment hard.

Help them connect to their feelings

It’s very common for children and young people to not know exactly what it is that they are feeling, when feelings struggle to be matched with the describing words it creates a sense of confusion and overwhelm.

Helping a young person to connect feelings and words is a really important part of developing a “calm down “ system. If you notice they are behaving in a changed way you might guess with them - does it feel like this? Could it be you are worried about this?

The more they develop the ability to interpret their own feelings, the better their mental and emotional health will be in the future. A young person might not realise that they feel anxious about returning to school, helping connect them to this as a possibility opens the door for a deeper connection and an open conversation.

Talk to school

York Press: Some children may feel anxious about returning to school next week.Some children may feel anxious about returning to school next week.

For many young people, school was already hard before the lockdowns. It’s sometimes easy to forget as adults the fear peer relationships, pecking orders and academic pressures bring. Young people are reporting anxiety about their confidence in protective measures within schools, they are sharing concerns that friendship groups might have moved on, some report that their anxiety has increased so significantly over lockdown that going outside and interacting with people now feels overwhelming.

If you know your child has been struggling with their mood, their peer relationships or other emotional health issues, talk to the school. School’s have spent months thinking about how best to support their students mental health when they return and there will be support on hand to help you and your child adjust.

Start now

Get your child accustomed to thinking about going back to school, talk to them about the routine they will go back to. Adjust any getting up times that have crept later than usual and support earlier bed time routines to get them eased into the structure and routine of going back.

Anecdotally, I have heard from many parents that in lockdown 3 their children struggled with the amount of work they needed to complete at home. Check in with your young person about how on top of things they feel. Going back to school worrying about work not done is an anxiety they could do without.

Look after yourself 

In a way, the issues facing our young people are often a good litmus test for our adult populations. Many of us are keen to get back to normal, embrace the opening of pubs, shops and restaurants whereas others have become acclimatised to life indoors. When we shrink our social world, opening it back up again can bring up feelings of anxiety. 

We have lived with so much uncertainty and seen overwhelming numbers of deaths, job losses and financial strains. It is only natural to have some apprehension as we open back up. It’s difficult to offer children and young people the soothing and grounding they need to face their return, if we are struggling ourselves. Taking a moment to listen to your feelings about the easing of measures and give yourself some space and support if you need it, can be a great way of looking after your young people.

I really do hope this is us out of measures for good but absolutely recognise the mental challenges people face getting back to normal.

All Best Wishes


Kirsten Antoncich FRSA

Psychotherapist and Neurofeedback practitioner