Tips for Families

Managing Emotions During Times of Transition

Tips for Managing Emotions During Times of Transition

(Adapted from the Fairfax County Public School District)

As we prepare to welcome many of our students back to full in-person learning it is likely that students and families are experiencing a variety of different emotions including excitement, anxiety, relief, and many others. Here are some tips to help manage the emotions that your child may experience now and as they return to school in the next few weeks.

Stay Informed

  • Visit the Ashland Public Schools website ( to read the full reopening plans for our schools and watch the webinars that were offered by each school. This information will help to answer questions that both you and your child may have.

Communicate Openly

  • Make time to check-in with your child and find out how they are feeling. Let your child know that you are available to talk if they have questions or concerns about returning to school.

  • Give your child the space and time to express themselves and validate their feelings without sharing your own. Taking this time to actively listen to your child allows you to more clearly understand what they are feeling nervous or excited about.

  • Reinforce the positive. Ask your child what they really enjoy about going to school and remind them of what they have liked in the past. At the end of the day ask your child to tell you or write down 2 good things about their day.

  • Normalize the transition for your child by letting them know that most people feel nervous in new situations. Remind them of the times they have done something new and overcome their fears. Let them know that learning to adapt to new situations as they have done many times in the past year helps them to develop a growth mindset, greater confidence, and resiliency.

  • Whenever possible, do not talk about your own concerns in front of your children as it is common for children to take on your worries.

Set a Positive Tone

  • Model a growth mindset by recognizing that we all have the capacity to change, grow, and develop. When children see growth mindsets in action around them, they are much more likely to internalize and apply this way of thinking for themselves.

  • Reframing events and circumstances into a more favorable view goes a long way in promoting a more hopeful outlook. It is not always easy to do, but it is mentally healthier for us to look at all we have learned and overcome from the past year, rather than focus on all that we may have lost.

Model Positive Coping and Problem-Solving Skills

  • Children naturally learn by observing others so if you are practicing healthy coping skills yourself, it is much more likely that your children will follow suit. Click here to access a comprehensive coping skills list for all ages.

  • The first week or two back may be challenging, but try to model a calm, positive mindset for your child as they learn new routines, meet new classmates or see classmates they have not seen in a year. Your child will again be adjusting to a new environment and it is normal for them to experience some anticipatory anxiety, separation anxiety or initial shyness.

  • Encourage your child to tell you, a teacher, or another trusted adult at school if a problem persists. Asking for help is another way of growing and adding new ideas to one’s personal toolbox. If this anxiety has not subsided after two weeks of consistently attending school, please reach out to your child’s teacher and school counselor. Click here to access the list of counseling staff for each building and here to access a list of community mental health resources. Here is a link to a great podcast on managing back to school anxiety by psychotherapist Lynn Lyons who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adults.