THE news that after weeks of uncertainty schools will reopen in September might have been hard to swallow for your social teenagers who are facing months without seeing friends. But don't forget that your little ones may be feeling lonely too.
Fact is, whether your children were in the last year of kindergarten and are moving to primary school, or were attending pre-K, they can still exhibit feelings of anxiety about the changes to their routine. And even if school had not been their favourite place in the world, many kids are itching to go back to that routine.
But while some will go back to the same institution and see their teachers and their friends again, there are others for whom the March break signalled the abrupt end of some relationships with friends that would have forged over time.
For example, a child who was in K3 and would have graduated next month to head to primary school would have formed bonds that were abruptly cut short in March when schools were ordered closed. And with many children heading in different directions for primary or preparatory school, many of these children will never see each other again, and didn't get to say proper goodbyes. And they don't have the luxury of WhatsApp, Hangouts or the like that older students use to keep in touch.
Indeed, even your baby who attended nursery school can have anxiety issues with not seeing their favourite aunties, or not having the structured activities that come with pre-school. So what can parents do in this situation?
One common concern that many children who attend school are struggling to cope with at this time, Paediatrician Dr Lisa Franklin-Banton highlighted, is the fact that they can't see their friends. And depending on their ages, some can't understand why they are not allowed to go and see them or hang out with them, and this can be stressful.
“Handling something like this, the first recommendation I would make is that you allow them to use the various video call apps to talk to their friends. However, this doesn't help in all cases and they'll only feel better if they see the friend in person,” she said.
“So, if you can, make contact with the friend's parent and drive your child to see their friends. Before you go, though, you should make sure your child knows all the rules including that they will need to practise social distancing, will need to wear a mask, will not get to go into their friend's physical space — in fact, you might not even need the child to leave the car,” Dr Franklin-Banton suggested.