As children return to in-person activities, Duke psychologist offers tips to ease anxiety

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — After a school year like they’ve never experienced before, many children are looking forward to a summer that looks a little more normal.

For some of them, it’s the first time in more than a year they’ll be involved in in-person activities, and while that’s exciting, it can make some children a little nervous.

With COVID-19 rules relaxed, more children will be out on playgrounds, attending summer camps, or summer school.

“Some are really looking forward to being back with their friends — others are more anxious,” explained Duke psychologist Dr. Robin Gurwitch.

She said some children may wonder, “Will my friend remember me? Will they still want to play the same things?”

Gurwitch said suddenly starting in-person activities is a big adjustment for children who’ve spent most of the last year at home.

“We’ve been out of our regular routine for so long that this new routine actually seems to be the norm,” she noted.

Getting back on a schedule is important if your child is going to summer school or camp, especially if they’ve attended school virtually for the past year.

“Getting back to a structured routine, structured bedtime again, setting the alarms, turning off electronics before bed, getting back into that is going to be extremely important,” said Gurwitch.

It’s also important to talk with young children about why rules have changed, what precautions remain in place, and how they feel about the changes.

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