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Miller said the longer people practice avoidance the more fearful they become and so it is natural that children may feel scared about going back into the classroom.

Dr. Ashley Miller, a child psychologist with B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Parents may be struggling with how to let children go out and play safely with their friends as B.C. comes out of the COVID-19 shutdown, but Miller said parents should start doing more now so both parent and child can build confidence together and ease anxiety before September.

“How we feel and what we do can be more important than what we say,” said Miller.

Her advice is to follow B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommendations, and if there is a health risk in the family, then it could help to talk to a medical professional about how to make kids feel more comfortable about going to school.

“The thing that was really helpful for me as a parent was seeing the negative impacts of social isolation, and how — when I could manage letting go a bit — seeing how relaxed and how joyous they felt when they were able to see friends,” she said.

“That gave me confidence and then that confidence gave them confidence. It becomes a very positive cycle.”

She recommends desensitization efforts before school. So, that may include more socially distanced play dates, or if they will need to take transit to school  go for walks with your kids to the bus stop. Taking your kids to the school playground or out to a restaurant is another way to get them used to the idea of going back to where people are gathering.

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