Back to school tips during COVID19

Back to school during COVID19: Tips for parents and caregivers

It’s the end of summer and going back to school is challenging now more than ever as we are returning to school under COVID-19.  Many parents and caregivers are feeling unsure, overwhelmed and anxious.

School boards across the country are now planning for a return to school for fall 2020.  Many school boards are offering parents/caregivers the option between:

  1. Returning students physically back to school (ranging from part-time to full-time).
  2. Keeping your child at home and continuing with virtual schooling.
  3. A combination of physical return and virtual schooling.

Unsure or confused on deciding what to do?

Reasons to attend school include:

  1. Your child learns best when physically present at school.
  2. Your child benefits from seeing peers and participating in other school activities, such as gym arts, music, school extra-curriculars.
  3. If you child is in school full time, you can go to work and support your family financially.
  4. Schools can provide access to meal programs and other services.

Reasons to avoid physical return to school: 

  1. Your child (or someone living at home such as a parent or sibling) has an underlying condition (or age) that increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  2. The level of community spread is high in your area (which increases the risk of COVID-19).

Reasons to consider virtual schooling from home:

  1. Your child has someone that can supervise them at home.
  2. Your child has access to reliable technology (such as internet) for your child’s virtual learning.
  3. Your child’s virtual learning option gives opportunities for real-time interactions with the teachers (e.g., have live instruction).
  4. Your child’s maturity and learning style are sufficient for virtual learning.

Back to school tips:

Here are some tips that may be helpful as the school year starts, whether or not your child will be returning to school physically or virtually.

Social connections:

  1. Continue to encourage your child or youth to stay social with their friends and peers. This will help them feel more connected by the time they get back to school. Ideally this involves face-to-face connections outside, as per COVID-19 physical distancing.
  2. If they can’t meet face-to-face, try a video call or even write a letter to a friend.



  1. Gradually get back into school year structure and routines. Bring up the topic that summer is coming to an end and that school will be restarting.
  2. Talk about routines. You might say: “Hey guys, with COVID-19, you’ve had a lot more screen time than usual, but now that school is starting up again, we’re going to get back into our old routine… “
  3. Set a bedtime (and/or wake up time) and move it closer to what it should be for the school year.
  4. Set a screen curfew (a “downtime” after which point there are no screens).
  5. Ask about routines to continue. “What new COVID-19 routines would people like to continue during the school year? For example, regular family walks after dinner; family movie night, bike rides, etc.
  6. Write down the new school-year schedule, to help children visualize and understand their daily routine.


Normalize mask-wearing:

Some children will be able to wear masks easily, but others may have a harder time.  Consider the following exposure and desensitization strategies.

  1. Are you buying a mask? Try giving your child some of the newer child-friendly designs to choose from or get them to help decorate a pre-made mask.
  2. Are you making a mask? Let your child choose the material.
  3. Teach distraction strategies like distracting with music, videos, video games to help pass the time while wearing a mask.
  4. Practice calming strategies like deep breathing, going outside, going for a walk, etc.
  5. Consider motivating kids to get used to wearing a mask by pairing it with something they enjoy, like allowing video game time (within your limits) while wearing their mask.
  6. Does your child or youth still have struggles with mask wearing, despite your best efforts? Consider seeing your health-care provider to see if there might be other options, including seeing if your child may have a valid medical exemption.


Help your child continue to cope:

  1. Stay connected to your kids. Kids do best when they feel loved by their caregivers, which happens when you spend quality time with them and listen, validate and empathize with their feelings (as opposed to seeing adults as being angry, upset, and emotionally unavailable to them).
  2. Model healthy coping. Kids do best when they learn healthy ways to cope with adversity, such as following public health recommendations with masks and physical distancing (as opposed to unhealthy strategies such as focusing on negatives and blaming).
  3. Attach positive meaning to the pandemic. Kids do best when they can have a positive meaning of a situation. You might say: “On one hand, this pandemic has not been easy but on the other hand, we’ve been able to have a lot more fun times together.


Ease your child’s worries:

  1. Ask about their fears and try to reassure or problem solve. Ask: “What worries you the most?”
  2. Validate and accept your child’s feelings about the situation. You might say: ” “I can see why you might be feeling (insert your child’s feelings here) about this.”
  3. Give your child a sense of control – open up the lines of communication.
  4. Try giving your child a sentimental object that reminds them of you, e.g. a photograph, a special piece of jewelry or a small toy that they can carry with them in their backpack.
  5. Try to listen without interrupting.


The first week back to school:

  1. Time management is key. Leave earlier than usual and whether you are driving, or simply dropping off your kids at the bus stop, this will give you more flex time.
  2. Consider working a shorter day on the first day/week back to school, so that you can pick them up and support them getting used to the new routine.
  3. Establish a goodbye ritual. When its time to say goodbye to your child, give them a final hug, kiss, say goodbye, and talk about when you’ll see them next. Don’t just say “Goodbye!”, bridge the separation by talking about when you will see them next.
  4. Once you’ve dropped off your child try to take some time just for yourself, whether it’s going for a walk, to the coffee shop, having tea with a friend, or just going home to nap or watch TV.
  5. Check in with your children about how the day went. If your child isn’t ready to talk, then ask them later when they are ready. You might ask: “How did your day go?” “How did it go with wearing your mask and keeping away from people and all that?”  “What was hard, what was easy?”
  6. If they are sad, validate the sadness: “I can see you are feeling sad and it’s ok to cry. I’m going to miss you too.” Offer comfort like a hug or offering a tissue.

Remember: Every child and situation are unique.  Touch base with your school staff to get added support as needed.

Loss and Grief

Loss and Grief

Losing a loved one can be a painful experience which can lead to a path of grieving. In this process people often feel alone and overwhelmed with intense emotions that can last for months or years. Along with emotional symptoms of sadness, people can also experience physical symptoms. Which can include headaches loss of appetite and sleep. If not treated in time it can lead to depression. Everyone experiences grief differently, it is not a linear process and there is no predictable time period for grieving. Grieving process should not be rushed and denied. Being patient with yourself, seeking support and acknowledging your feeling are some ways that can help you cope.

“People in grief need someone to walk with them without judging them.” Gail Sheehy

Seniors and COVID


Seniors and COVID

We are going through some unprecedented times experiencing the COVID 19 pandemic. This epidemic has affected us all in many ways. Many of us are feeling sad, stressed, anxious, scared and confused.  We have been advised to practice physical distancing to help control the spread of the virus which has resulted in social distancing. We adapted creative ways to connect with our loved ones through Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime etc. The population that has suffered the most is our seniors. Physical distancing has created isolation and loneliness among them. Some of them have lost their regular routines which might be going to gym, recreation centers or a visit to the park. These are great places for socialization and provides a means to stay active and engaged.  However the fear of COVID have imprisoned them in their own homes and away from their loved ones. The restrictions are easing in BC; the care homes are allowed to open for visitors, the recreation centers and malls are also accommodating their needs for having an early hour for seniors. We can all do our part by reaching out and connecting with them by calling, video-conferencing, sending an e-card, email or letter. Let’s not forget the people who need our support the most.


Discussing Problems with Others

Discussing Problems with Others

Communicating effectively where we feel heard can be a challenge. Below are some simple steps in assuring that you are saying what you mean in order to communicate and collaborate with the people around you.

  • Plan and Practice beforehand.
  • Select an appropriate time and place to talk.
  • Be specific and descriptive. Give an example of what behaviours are troubling you.
  • Use “I” statements and avoid accusatory “you” statements.
  • Share your concerns as they come, if they are really important.
  • Avoid name calling and derogatory comments.
  • Make sure your non-verbal behaviours communicate your seriousness.
  • Tell people that you still like and appreciate them’ if you do.
  • Offer specific solutions, or suggestions.
  • Support and validate behaviours you like.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • Avoid getting caught up and sidetracked.
  • Share any discomfort you feel in giving feedback.
  • Remain firm when challenged, unless it is a lost cause.
  • Focus on common interests.
  • Make it worthwhile for people to change.
  • Don’t expect people to change.
  • Use concerns as opportunities to strengthen relationships.

Gambrill, Eileen and Richey, Cheryl. (1988) Taking Charge of Your Social Life.

Berkeley, CA. Behavioral Options Publishing. p. 195.



In today’s world being successful is considered the key to happiness, whether it be in a personal life or professional one. We live in a very competitive society where there is a lot of emphasis on being strong and confident. We are expected to conquer and push ourselves in very stressful situations that requires confidence and boldness. However, this does not leave room for a lot of us who struggle with low self-esteem.

Having a low self-esteem means constantly doubting yourself, always over thinking and a lot of self-limiting beliefs. There are many factors that can contribute to having a low self-esteem such as, having an early negative childhood experience, being bullied at school or living in an abusive relationship.

Living with self limiting beliefs takes a toll on our mental health. It keeps us in unhealthy and toxic relationships where we start settling for less than we deserve.

To change how we views oneself is a difficult and daunting process although not impossible. Surrounding yourself with supportive people and challenging negative thought patterns are some of the ways we can start building our self-esteem. Individual and group counselling can also offer support and strategies that can help develop a positive view of yourself.

“Each of us had great gifts, but many of us severely limit ourselves with negative attitudes about our potential” Gene R Cook


Why Self-Compassion is important

Self-compassion involves being aware of our own pain and suffering, and understanding that this is a hard, but normal human experience.  Directing feelings of kindness and
care towards ourselves and focusing our attention and energy on how we might alleviate our pain, are also crucial components of self-compassion.

Self-compassion can bring great benefits for our mental health and well-being.  Particularly, self-compassion can activate our soothing system, which calms the threat and drive systems.

Our threat and drive systems tend to be overactive for many of us much of the time, and responsible for the difficult emotions we may be struggling with (e.g., anxiety, anger, depression).

The opposite of self-compassion is self-criticism.  This very negative thinking style often links to difficult emotions and mental health problems.  Those who are highly self-critical particularly
need to develop the ability to relate to themselves in a compassionate way.

Info Sheet – What is Self-Compassion (PDF)


The Importance of Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

The Importance of Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential for both our physically and emotionally healthy. Creating healthy boundaries can feel empowering as we begin to recognize the need to set and enforce limits in our life. For some boundaries are to protect you (keep you safe).  Boundaries can also help increase your self-esteem, maintain self-respect, and enjoy healthy relationships.

Unhealthy boundaries cause emotional pain.  Emotional pain has many impacts that affect our well-being. A lack of boundaries is like leaving the door to your home unlocked: anyone, including unwelcome guests, can enter. On the other hand, having too rigid boundaries can lead to isolation where no o one can get in, and you can’t get out.

Identifying our Values we can better establish boundaries.  When we think of what happens for us emotionally or physical when our values have been crossed; it looks a lot like what happens when someone crosses you boundaries.

Create space to self reflect on what you value and how you can establish and maintain healthy boundaries.


Rediscovering Yourself

Rediscovering Yourself


The building blocks of a successful relationships are: transparency, compromise and honesty. To make a relationship fruitful we have to put our best foot forward in order to make everything just right.

In these relationships we often begin to try to create deeper connections in order to make the person feel good by adapting their likes and dislikes. By integrating their hobbies, interests, and belief systems into our own selves is done to create harmony. In this cycle of pretending we begin to lose sight of ourselves and not recognize our own authenticity and individuality.

Women do these things not just for their partners but for their children as well. However, when children move on she finds herself alone and lost. Rediscovering yourself is not an easy thing to work through though it is worth the journey.

Eckhart Tolle: “When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world”.

Life on Autopilot

Life has many ups and downs and in some stages it can feel hectic and chaotic. In order to prevent getting overwhelmed we create routine and structure in our daily lives.

Creating a comfortable pace where we start doing things from a very unconscious state of mind. Over time it becomes part of our life and a new normal living in this autopilot state.

With time it starts affecting our relationships. We start to feel stagnant and lose connection with those around us, causing for our relationships to get weaker. Living in this comfortable and predictable bubble can cause life to become dull and may result in losing interest in each other.

Being spontaneous and humorful is the key to keeping relationships strong and growing. Taking time out for each other, appreciating each other, being mindful and present are some of the key components of having a healthy relationship.

The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine – Vilayat Inayat khan

Distress Intolerance

What is distress intolerance?

According to centre for clinical interventions, “Most people dislike feeling uncomfortable.

There are many ways that humans can feel uncomfortable: we can be hot, cold, tired, in pain, hungry, unwell, and the list could go on. The type of discomfort we will be talking about in these modules is emotional discomfort, or what is often called distress.

We may not like it, but experiencing uncomfortable emotions is a natural part of life.

However, there is a difference between disliking unpleasant emotions and experiencing unpleasant emotions as unbearable and needing to get rid of them. Being intolerant of experiencing emotional discomfort can interfere with living a fulfilling life, and can escalate any emotional discomfort we might be experiencing”.

Learn More (PDF)