Psychiatrist gives parents tips to help kids return to educational setting

Jul 27, 2020, 4:35 AM

PHOENIX — As children and their families prepare for the upcoming school year, one mental health expert is advising guardians how to mitigate side effects students may experience due to an abrupt return to an academic atmosphere.

“After being home for nearly half the year, there’s some children that may not be fully mentally and socially conditioned to jump right back into the full academic environment,” Dr. Larry Mitnaul, a psychiatrist, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

To help their children transition back into a learning environment, Mitnaul said parents must be patient with themselves and others around them since this upcoming school year is going to be an ongoing process.

Mitnaul also advised parents to engage in simple, open talk with their children.

“Ask them what their hopes, aspirations and maybe some of their fears and frustrations about what his next year will bring,” he added.

These questions will help parents gauge where their children are and how much they know, according to Mitnaul.

An open conversation can be the beginning of addressing any important gaps that may be within their knowledge — whether regarding returning to school, why they’re not isolated anymore or the coronavirus pandemic as a whole.

“You can imagine a preschooler or kindergartener that has some awareness of COVID-19 may have some kind of fanciful magical beliefs about how it gets transmitted or what it might do and what the consequences might be,” Mitnaul said.

“Sometimes a very simple answer can be the thing that decreases their sense of worry or dread.”

The mental health professional also said parents shouldn’t be surprised if their children display stagnation or regression when it comes to social interactions.

Due to the widespread use of face coverings, Mitnaul said children may be struggling to accurately interpret social cues.

If a child can’t see someone smile or read someone’s expression, they may act different than usual, according to Mitnaul.

He said he’s already seen a major decrease in his adolescent patients’ social skills due to the social constraints of face masks.

Mitnaul has also advised parents and guardians to establish routines that’ll help children succeed as much as possible when they finally return to an educational setting.

Introducing a set bed time, wake up time, lunch and dinner time and play time will provide children with the the sort of structure necessary for success, Mitnaul said.

While the coronavirus pandemic has upended normalcy in the lives of parents and their children, Mitnaul said established routines can better equip students to navigate uncertain times.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deshan Begay, 24, was struck by a vehicle while walking when he didn't have the right of way, polic...

Man fatally struck while crossing I-10 access road at red light in Phoenix

Deshan Begay, 24, was crossing the I-10 westbound access road on Wednesday evening when a vehicle fatally struck him, Phoenix police said.

5 hours ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

6 hours ago

Preston Lord murder suspect Talyn Vigil posted bond and was released from jail on April 12, 2024. (...

Talyn Vigil, suspect in murder of Preston Lord, posts bonds and is released from jail

Talyn Vigil, one of seven suspects indicted in the murder of 16-year-old Preston Lord in Queen Creek, posted bond and was released from jail Friday, authorities said.

9 hours ago

Santokh "Sam" Singh went missing in Gilbert on April 12, 2024. (DPS Photo)...

Silver Alert issued for 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert

A Silver Alert was issued Friday for a 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert earlier in the day, authorities said.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote rally ...

Associated Press

Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to ‘remedy’ state abortion ruling that he says ‘went too far’

Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban.

10 hours ago

Runesha White, 22, is accused of stabbing a man in the back after he recorded a separate fight on A...

Woman arrested after fight leads to stabbing, shooting in Glendale

A woman was arrested and two people were hospitalized after a fight led to a stabbing and a shooting in Glendale on Wednesday night.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Psychiatrist gives parents tips to help kids return to educational setting