July 2, 2021

Helping Teens with Anxieties about School After COVID

Dr. Emily Bilek is quoted in this Metro Parent article 

Read the entire article here.


“Whether kids were fully remote, hybrid or in some in-person learning, it was not how kids were learning before,” says Emily Bilek, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry. “Going back to school, probably with some sense of normalcy in fall 2021, will be a challenging transition for a large proportion of kids.”


At times, encouraging 12- to 17-year-olds to discuss their concerns can be akin to removing sticker residue. If your child exhibits signs of anxiety this summer but won’t talk, “model a culture where you talk about emotions,” Bilek says.

Parents can do this by casually asking their teens or tweens how their day was or how they’re feeling. A foundation to these conversations should be validation and genuine listening, according to Bilek.

“As humans, we are problem-solving machines,” Bilek says. “Our brains are problem-solving machines. So often, we want to jump to solving the problem. (Sometimes,) it just doesn’t land right.”

Bilek offers an example: Your tween hasn’t played on a basketball team for more than a year because of the pandemic. His or her friend has a hoop in their backyard and practices every day. Now, your child is worried he or she won’t make the school’s varsity team this upcoming year.