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How to help kids cope with back-to-school anxiety

Wash U psychologist Dr. Tim Bono gave tips on how to help your child deal with these emotions

ST. LOUIS — Going back to school comes with a lot of changes due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Back-to-school guide: Social distancing, virtual learning, classroom safety

With a new way of learning, anxiety and stress may be piling on for students.

Washington University psychologist Dr. Tim Bono provided tips on how to help your child deal with these emotions.

"I'd say it's important to break open a dialogue with your child about the kinds of emotions they are experiencing," he said. 

First, make sure they understand that their feelings are valid and emotions are OK.

Labeling their emotions can address where that anxiety and stress is coming from.

By normalizing it, children can open up more.

If you want to address the stress?

Dr. Bono said ask the child to be specific about what they're most going to miss about the upcoming school year.

If your child is physically feeling the anxiety, teaching them breathing exercises can be helpful.

Another tip? 

Being honest about what changes they may face every single day, whether that's a virtual learning plan or in person. 

"The major idea is to make sure that the child has a realistic grasp on how these changes are going to be affecting their day to day lives," he added.

Dr. Bono also says, reminding your child about other challenging times, can remind them of their strength.

"Asking the child to think back on previous times when they've been disappointed or when they've had to miss out on something and what that was like. Then talking through what the process was like to overcome that and find some alternative," Dr. Bono explained.

"Reminding them if you had the strength and the ability to do that, that means that you have the strength to do this. A really important part of psychological health is our ability to persevere, even during challenging times," he said. 

He added that this global pandemic is a learning lesson for all of us, but it reminds us we can overcome adversity.

A recommendation for kids who don't want to speak?

Dr. Bono says it's still important to have that conversation.