With schools now reopened, many parents and their children are feeling the stress of our uncertain world. In the past, back to school was a predictable and even comforting time for parents — knowing their children will have a structured schedule. So with everything up in the air, families are unsure what to expect.
Whether children will be returning in-person or online, this won’t be the traditional back-to-school we’re familiar with. As counselors, there are many ways to offer continued support for families as they navigate this time in their lives, and beyond.
Supporting families back to school
- Stay flexible: It goes without saying, these are odd times. The situation is always changing, and no one knows what’s going to happen next. For example, children who were went back to school in-person may be sent home, affecting everyone’s schedules and changing the family dynamic. Be prepared to shift your client support strategies. It’s important to meet the moment as challenges arise. And don’t forget to be patient with yourself. This is new territory for counselors and clients alike, so show yourself compassion and navigate challenges as they come.
- Work closely with parents: Especially in a time like this, children will be looking closely at their caregivers for guidance and behavioral expectations. Remind parents to stay communicative and educate their children about the pandemic and how it’ll affect their day-to-day. However, avoid being fearful — especially when explaining safety precautions like mask-wearing and hand-washing. Taking a fear-based approach may cause unnecessary anxiety or even resistance to change. Through open conversations, setting the right boundaries for children and expectations for the household, the whole family can work towards their goals together and feel more connected in the process.
- Utilize technology: Try utilizing a homework app like Therachat to keep your clients on-track and help them shift as needed. The features include daily reminders to stay on-track, mindfulness exercises, and emotion tracking. It’s an innovative way to help your clients feel supported between appointments. This is especially key when they’re juggling family life. Plus, it’s a great way to encourage open conversations about mental health with the whole family.
Easing into change
Many families are feeling uneasy with change as we enter the fall season and back to school. The reality is, there will be an adjustment period for families as they get back into the swing of managing work, school, and quality time. With wiggle room and the right tools, counselors and their clients can work to navigate this uncertain time together.
If you’re a clinician looking to utilize digital tools in your practice, learn more about Therachat’s innovative features. We can help your clients reach their goals faster.