VANCOUVER -- Students often feel anxious when September rolls around each year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those stressors are at an all-time high.

A West Vancouver family counsellor says it's more important now than ever to have an open dialogue with kids to discuss their feelings about returning to the classroom.

"Talk to them but don't just dump your own anxiety out," said Alyson Jones on CTV Morning Live Thursday. "Ask them how they're feeling and if there's anything in particular they're anxious about."

Jones said it's also imperative for parents to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and stress in their children. 

"One of the biggest things we see is an escape through screens," she said. "Parents may think it's normal, but they're actually hiding out."

A change in appetite, sleeping patterns or mood can also be signs a child is feeling anxious or stressed, she said. 

Jones also suggests parents manage their own anxiety before having a conversation with their kids. 

"If you're coming in anxious yourself all the time … You're the anchor for your child and you're going to create more anxiety," she said. 

But Jones said it's important for adults to recognize their own anxiety and normalize their feelings. 

"It's okay that you're anxious," she said. "If you're a parent right now, it makes sense that you would be anxious."

Jones said at the end of the day, bring the conversation back to something positive to help ease the feelings of stress.

"Ask your children what are three things they're grateful for," Jones said. "When we refocus like that, it makes us feel tremendously better." 

She also suggests parents spend quality time with their kids and just do something fun to take their mind off things. 

"If you really want to do the best thing you can do for your child, give them time. Give them your attention," Jones said.

"When we fill them up with us, they go out into the world and whatever they have to face a lot more prepared. We need to remind ourselves and them how resilient we all are."