CTV's Madison Erhardt chats with Chief Psychologist and Mental Health Lead for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB), Dr. Patrick Carney, about ways to handle potential anxiety before school starts.
Madison: For parents with children who are anxious about going back to school, how can they help?
Dr. Carney: Anxiety is a good thing when put into action to understand what you are anxious about and to think through how you are going to manage that.
To give an example of what teachers do all the time to manage anxiety for kids that have a fear of public speaking, they practice a little bit, they talk about it and then maybe practice just giving a speech in front of the teacher. So, it's inching along in the right direction rather than just avoiding the conversation and avoiding inching your way along to approach the thing you are anxious about.
Madison: For parents who have anxiety about sending their kids back and don't want to pass that stress onto their kids, what should they do?
Dr. Carney: Parents pass on their anxieties and their emotions to children, and so they need to have the honest conversations and say I am here with you to think this through and to make plans to keep you safe. There is so much being done to mitigate the risks interns of physical distancing, interns of hygiene, interns of ventilation and the way the day is being run.
Madison: What are the warning signs to watch for with kids struggling with the adjustment of back to school?
Dr. Carney: Well, when they are struggling with the adjustment, we look at function.
A child who has some anxiety and describes that to the parent is great because now you have something to talk about and think through and to take the steps necessary.
A child that can't eat and this is prolonged, it is important to watch the level of function and see if it's worse then you have seen before and really interfering with day to day living and functioning then that is the point when you need to reach out and get some counselling for the child or more consultation for the parents about the specifics and what they need to do.