“Whether kids were fully remote, hybrid or in some in-person learning, it was not how kids were learning before,” says Emily Bilek, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry. “Going back to school, probably with some sense of normalcy in fall 2021, will be a challenging transition for a large proportion of kids.”
At times, encouraging 12- to 17-year-olds to discuss their concerns can be akin to removing sticker residue. If your child exhibits signs of anxiety this summer but won’t talk, “model a culture where you talk about emotions,” Bilek says.
Parents can do this by casually asking their teens or tweens how their day was or how they’re feeling. A foundation to these conversations should be validation and genuine listening, according to Bilek.
“As humans, we are problem-solving machines,” Bilek says. “Our brains are problem-solving machines. So often, we want to jump to solving the problem. (Sometimes,) it just doesn’t land right.”
Bilek offers an example: Your tween hasn’t played on a basketball team for more than a year because of the pandemic. His or her friend has a hoop in their backyard and practices every day. Now, your child is worried he or she won’t make the school’s varsity team this upcoming year.