Doctor: Kids will need counseling, support as they deal with anxieties of going back to school during pandemic

MADISON, Wis. — This back to school season feels very different. For many kids — whether they’re starting school virtually or in-person — instead of feeling excitement for the year ahead, they’re feeling anxiety and stress.

SSM Health pediatrician Dr. Dan Beardmore said all kids are going to need counseling. That doesn’t mean they need to see a counselor, but they will need support and help getting through this uncertain time.

“Kids are getting depressed and stressed and sad. They’re missing their friends, they’re missing their activities. They’re sick of being in their home, sick of their parents. And the adult caregivers in their lives can help them through that if we talk it through, if we support them,” said Beardmore.

He said some parents might think, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ but he suggests saying what comes naturally. Beardmore said oftentimes kids just want to talk it out.

He said parents should ask what’s bothering them, recognize their feelings, side with them, and assure them it will be ok.

For many kids, not seeing their friends is hard for them. Beardmore said although Zoom play dates are a good idea, they can only go so far.

He said small, safe gatherings are ok if both families talk each other about what steps they’re taking to stop the spread of coronavirus. Beardmore said during these small play dates, kids should be wearing masks.