Q: My daughter is struggling. The new Zoom structure at LPMS is a huge adjustment. She’s moody, cranky, crying all the time. She was sensitive before but now she’s beside herself. She’s lethargic, has nightmares, worries excessively. She frets about my leaving the house, afraid I’m going to get Covid. She freaks out about tracking her assignments online. I just don’t know what to do to support her anymore. She’s with me the majority of the time and her dad’s not much help anyway. I feel like it’s all on me and I’m not sure what to do.

A: We’re so sorry to her about your daughter’s struggles. We’ve noticed an enormous uptick in calls from parents worried about their middle schoolers. These times seem to be hitting tweens harder than any other group. According to Julia Churchill, our middle school specialist, Zoom school can be socially isolating for kids. They can’t have whispered side conversations during class or talk in the hallways. Their lives are often more sedentary without classes transitions and extracurriculars.

Here are three things you can do now that can help.

  • Encourage active social interactions, perhaps small social pods, for bike rides, or going to park, or 5 Below, or Starbucks. It is so important they have time with their peers, figure out how to do that safely.
  • Make a plan for Halloween. Whether it’s hunting your house for candy, or pod family parties, or walking the streets to look at decorations, or stopping at houses for gloved treats. Get your daughter excited about something like family pajama day. Let her come up with themes with her friends for 80’s and 90’s day or crazy hair day. Get into it with clothes, food, and music. Kids need something to look forward to and ways to be in charge.
  • And when she’s crying, just be there. No advice needed. Just comfort, listen, and give a hug. Be with her as she grieves. Sitting with our emotions is a crucial life skill, and seek professional help if needed.