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Navigating tough conversations: advice for parents ahead of the new school year

A pediatric psychologist talks about how parents can address the many questions they might be receiving from their kids.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — School starts in about one month for most kids, but there are a lot of questions still remaining about what school will look like.  

10TV talked with Dr. Parker Huston, a pediatric psychologist and clinical director of “On Our Sleeves,” about how parents can approach the many questions they are receiving from their kids.  

One suggestion Dr. Huston had for parents is to adjust expectations ahead of the upcoming school year.  

“Not being an educator but spending a lot of time with educators lately, I certainly think there is a different expectation going into this school year than what we’re used to,” Dr. Huston said, adding that parents shouldn’t compare their kids’ progress to years’ past. “Not to stress out as much as we might normally as parents, thinking, ‘Oh, is my kid on grade level or are they where they should be?’ Because if we’re thinking it, then chances are every other parent is concerned with it as well."

10TV talked with one father-daughter duo about the conversations they have had.  

“Last year was a little crazy because when COVID hit and we had to wear masks and taking tests wasn't my favorite with masks because everything would be hot and sweaty,” 11-year-old Olivya said.

Like most 11-year-olds around central Ohio, Olivya has questions about the next school year.  

“The kids being home, you know, it was hard on them because trying to concentrate on being at home and doing school stuff, I know it’s hard to do at that age,” Olivya’s dad Homer said.

Dr. Huston told 10TV that if parents find themselves having to respond to tough scenarios, ranging from masks to social distancing and everything in between, they should remember they aren’t alone.

“It’s time to just step back and say, these aren’t decisions that we make independently but we make decisions we feel are healthy for our community and we trust those decision-makers whose job is to help keep kids healthy and in school as much as possible,” he said.  

Finally, Dr. Huston suggested that parents be open and honest with their children about their own feelings during the pandemic.  

“It’s really important that they understand that you’re going through it with them and you can help them. You can model a good way of discussing it and being open about how it makes you feel and also what you’re doing to help get yourself through it,” Dr. Huston said.  

Parents can find more resources for having tough discussions with their kids by going to the On Our Sleeves website.

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