What to Do for School Anxiety during COVID-19

As schools across the nation are preparing to start the schoolyear, school anxiety across the nation may be increasing. The school day is going to look a lot different during COVID-19, and both children and adults may be feeling some trepidation.

Those feelings are completely normal, but they don’t have to rule your lives. Here are some tips to help ensure a smooth back-to-school transition for your anxious child as well as yourself. 

Outline what to expect.

Whether your child will be attending virtual classes, heading to school in person, or engaging in both, school is not going to be what they’re used to. Give your children a rundown on the changes they’re likely to see.

Creating a visual schedule of what their day will entail can also be helpful. If your children will be attending virtual classes, set up a Zoom call so they get a feel for what it’s like. It’s always comforting to know what’s in store. 

Be a role model.

Children learn from the adults around them. If you’re constantly on edge or stressed out, it’s likely your children may become equally as anxious. Calming your own mind through techniques like deep breathing can be helpful. You can teach deep breathing techniques to your children as well.

This doesn’t mean you have to be 100% calm every minute of every day. It’s OK, and even healthy, for children to experience some stress in their lives. The key is to model how you cope with it in a productive way.

“I’m feeling stressed out,” you can tell them. “I’m going on a walk. Would you like to come with me?”


Your child may be ready to face the challenges of school during COVID-19, or they may not. Talk to them. Ask them about their worries or concerns. Most importantly, listen. Listen to the words they say. Pay attention to their body language and what they don’t say.

If they are particularly anxious about a specific situation, you can talk them through it. Set up a simple script or role play the situation, acting out different ways it may unfold.

Focus on the positive.

Yes, your child may not be fond of wearing a mask or doing things differently. And yes, the changes can cause resistance. While you want to give your child a chance to express their frustrations, you don’t want to dwell on them. Find positive aspects about the situation.

Changes in the school schedule may mean more time to spend with family. Do what you can to make it fun. Set up family projects and game nights. Go outside to connect with nature and get some exercise.

Once school gets into swing, make sure you establish and keep a daily routine. You can even start the routine in advance to prepare, with earlier bedtimes and regular wake-up times. Having a regular schedule provides a sense of predictability and calm, something that is welcome to both anxious children and adults.