With Connecticut schools going back in to session, many families and students are grappling with anxiety related to the many unknowns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 1954, Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut (CGC) is dedicated to improving the mental and behavioral health of children and teens through treatment, education and community support. CGC’s behavioral health leaders are offering advice to families and students finding it difficult to cope at this time of back to school stress and anxiety.

Jessica Welt, PsyD, Chief Executive Officer and Clinical Director notes that the upcoming return to school is a significant cause of stress and anxiety for children and parents. She states parents face difficult decisions as they attempt to balance the risks of COVID exposure against the risks of ongoing social isolation for their children and families. Dr. Welt recommends, “Parents arm themselves and their children with knowledge and skills to mitigate risk of exposure in school, for example wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and washing hands, so kids might have the opportunity while infection rates are low and the weather supports outdoor education to see friends and teachers and experience a sense of normalcy in these chaotic and uncertain times.  It’s important to let your child express him or herself and acknowledge your child’s feelings about the decision you make. Be sure to review and practice with your children the new skills and rules that are required during this time and periodically revisit how they are feeling about it. That said, each family’s circumstances are unique and the “right” answer is what feels right for you and your family.”

Julie Ringelheim, PsyD, Director of Psychology Training Program, stresses to parents, “No matter what you decide for your child, whether it is remote learning, hybrid learning or home schooling, know that it is okay and that your children will continue to develop and learn regardless of the format of their education right now. It is important to have confidence in the individual decisions you are making for your child and family, even if they are different from your neighbors and friends. This will translate to your child feeling confident and secure too.”

Child Guidance of Southern Connecticut, Inc.’s team of behavioral health clinicians are available to all children and their families living in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan and can meet virtually by phone or video with children and parents needing support. More information is available at www.childguidancect.org.