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Tips on talking to kids about the new school year

With uncertainty about how the 2020-21 school year will look, a Western New York psychologist says now is the time to talk about concerns with your children.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A local licensed psychologist says now is the time to talk about the new school year with your family.

Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb says the best time to have this conversation is now because we don't know what school will look like in the fall. She says the first thing you need to do is acknowledge your own feelings and anxiety, then talk to your child and give them permission to be afraid.

Dr. Taublieb says you have to be very direct about this.

"And say we do not know what's going to happen in August, in September. What are some of your thoughts? Often times, the child will be very eager to open up," said Taublieb. "Other times, they'll just look at the mom or dad and say, I don't know. And, that's when the mom or dad has to kind of jump in and say it's got to be kind of weird for you. You haven't been to school since March. You want to go back? You don't want to go back? My guess is your feelings are mixed. Kind of help the child talk about what he or she is feeling."

She says the unknown is the scariest thing about all of this and that parents need to identify that and be in touch with how your child is feeling. She adds that it will be tough in different ways for different age groups. Younger kids will be dealing with separation anxiety.

"They're used to being home with mom and dad, or grandma, or grandpa, or whomever, and it's going to be hard to leave the house," Taublieb said. "I think for the middle kids and for the teenagers, it's going to be difficult in a different way. They will have concerns about their ability to handle the academics. They will also though have almost more serious concerns about socializing. About friends. Are people going to like me? Are people going to remember me? Is that kid who used to bully me going to continue to bully me?"

She says because we don't know what will happen with school yet this fall, now is the time to have these conversations. And, that the best thing is to be very direct with your children and open about your own feelings and concerns.

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