Mississauga and Brampton parents can help kids handle back-to-school anxiety

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Published September 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

While they’ve been told it’s safe to go back to school and learn and play alongside their classmates and friends, many Mississauga and Brampton students will likely be worried as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold across Ontario and beyond.  

Trillium Health Partners psychiatrist Dr. Ian Dawe says it’s natural for some among Peel’s 229,000-plus students and their families to “feel some uncertainty in light of COVID-19.” 

Anticipating their concerns, Dawe offers a number of practical tips for managing feelings of anxiety as kids head back to their classrooms. 

First, he says, talk openly and honestly with kids about what’s happening and how they’re feeling. Next, provide practical encouragement. 

“Validate their concerns and answer any questions they might have to the best of your abilities,” Dawe tells parents in a one-minute video, Managing Back-to-School Anxiety for Kids, posted to his and the Region of Peel’s Twitter pages. “Acknowledge that it’s okay to worry, but assure them that their teachers and schools are going to do everything they can to keep them safe.” 

Dawe says it’s also important to set goals and celebrate accomplishments. Furthermore, take care of the basics as well. 

“If anxiety is preventing a return to school, set attainable goals for your child and celebrate the achievements,” he says. “Ensure your kids get adequate sleep, physical activity and regular meals. It’s likely these routines were disrupted in recent months.” 

Finally, Dawe recommends, parents should take care of themselves as well, as children take their cues from mom and dad. 

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board officials report via a recent survey that 93 per cent of the board’s 45,000 elementary school students and 88 per cent of their 31,500 secondary students are returning to their classrooms this week.  

The Peel District School Board, which has 112,000 elementary school students and 41,000 high school pupils, reports back-to-the-classroom numbers at about 10 per cent lower than those at the Catholic board. 

The remaining pupils have opted for remote, at-home learning, as allowed by Ontario’s ministry of education. 

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