KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lot of school districts in the greater Kansas City metro area are beginning their second week of school Monday.

The combination of virtual learning and isolation at home is really taking a toll on children.

Studies have found social isolation can cause mental health challenges for students.

Licensed clinical social worker, Brit Broshous with Saint Luke’s Crittenton Children’s Center, said it’s important to check any behaviors that may seem out of the ordinary.

“Recognize if things seem different than usual, if they’re asking a lot more questions than usual or they’re seeming a little bit more withdrawn,” Broshous said. “They’re not enjoying things that they typically enjoy, or maybe they’re having heightened emotion, but don’t really match the situation. You know, I spilled a little cup of water and we have a big outburst as a result, so just really noticing and recognizing if you’re seeing different behaviors from your child than you usually do.”

Broshous also encouraged parents to check in on their own feelings, validate their children’s feelings and what they may be going through, and also try and keep the lines of communication open with their friends from school.

“And so maybe that’s scheduling FaceTime calls with friends or checking in with neighbors and doing things that you guys are okay with and it’s still safe,” Broshous said. “Be able to let them have that social outlet, but that routine will also be very important.”

Parents and guardians also need to care for themselves.

“This is not easy we’re going through a lot of unknown circumstances and that’s okay,” Broshous said. “Make sure you’re practicing good self care and keep asking questions so that you feel like you have the information and you can relieve some of your own anxiety so you can support your child with that as well.”

It’s also suggested to find activities that families can control during the pandemic.

“So much is out of our control right now and so as much as we can focus on what we can control and help our kids feel like there are things that they do have control over,” Broshous said. “So giving them as much choice over things as we can. So if they can’t play sports, maybe focusing on what can we do that you can still be able to practice and involve your kids in setting up that routine, or virtual school at home, and building in things that they enjoy throughout the day so they have some control over what that structure looks like themselves.”

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