Among those children returning to in-person school this year, many have fears of being exposed to Covid-19. For our amazing food-allergy community, this is a particularly resonant issue, as our kids already live with a physical vulnerability.
Food allergic children aren’t “blessed” with the childhood delusion of believing they are invincible, which most children get to enjoy. Living with fears of anaphylaxis, our kids already walk around with a sense of fragility to their health (even if they don’t express it!) such that many of them have amplified fears to other injuries and illnesses. COVID-19 of course is no exception.
So how can we parents help our children who are feeling anxious about returning to school?
1. Empathize and validate their fears and then explain the facts to them. For example, children are less likely to become infected by the virus and less likely to have a severe course if infected.
2. Help them feel a sense of control and that you have full confidence in their abilities: For example, remind them that by simply doing things you’ve been practicing at home like, keeping their distance, wearing a mask, and washing their hands, they can help to keep themselves safe. Children feed off of our confidence in them to overcome their fears.
3. Avoid leading questions like, “Are you nervous about going back to school?” Instead gently inquire, “So how are you feeling about going back to school?”
4. Don’t be nervous in front of your children; model your strength for them. #YouveGotThis