Returning to school: Help them deal with Covid imposed challenges

According to research carried out by psychologists at Perspectives Ireland, it was found that transition year students, particularly those who’ve had only two terms of ‘in-school exposure’ over the past 18 months, may be experiencing a ‘significant loss of connection’.

However, it’s probably safe to assume that this feeling is not just being experienced by TY teens, rather it’s also likely that many other secondary school students are also feeling the effects of the pandemic and its imposed restrictions. Remember parents, while the past 18 months have seriously affected your child’s support systems, it’s also likely that they – if they’re feeling vulnerable – may also believe some of them have been eroded altogether. With that in mind, for what it’s worth as a doting grandmother to a 14-year-old who is about to enter third year, here are my thoughts on the situation.

The pandemic, the lockdown and the resulting restrictions make for an unprecedented situation that has affected everyone’s lives. However, as restrictions are being slowly lifted, and while everyone’s experiences will be different, the fact is your child may still have to face many challenges as a result. While the majority of kids have been remarkable and navigated the changes in their circumstances beautifully, it’s likely that some may be dealing with things differently.

Please remember that some kids may have had to deal with situations at home, ranging from parents losing their incomes or perhaps a loved one passing away during the restrictions. Some may be worrying about sick relatives or friends and some may have experienced insecurities regarding their home life. All of the above could lead to some students’ relationships with pals and teachers becoming strained, or worse, deteriorating altogether. With that in mind, please reassure them that they are not alone and understand that they are grieving as opposed to acting out. Speak to your family doctor about getting them some help to deal with their loss, which is not just emotional – it’s also likely to affect them both physically and socially.

Remember parents: it is likely that teenagers who once felt very safe and secure in their home life and in their school life may now be feeling very uncertain or experiencing a loss of confidence. This may be especially evident in those who could have witnessed you, their once happy, united parents, arguing as you struggled to manage what has been a national crisis for the country, but a very personal one for you.

In addition, many children may also be feeling concerned about the way in which their school and their teachers are both dealing with, and are implementing safety measures around the virus. This could serve to compound their distress.

If it’s the former, chat with them and reassure them that all is well within their family unit, and seek the help of a medical professional if necessary. If it’s the latter, contact the school today and ask the principal or your child’s favourite teacher to do a Zoom call with them to answer any questions they may have.