Focus on Mental Health during this back-to-school season!
Back to school season can be stressful for kids as well as parents. Take some time before school begins to help relieve some of the back-to-school anxiety.
Get ready by discussing the first day of school and practicing the routine. Discuss what time everyone will need to wake up, will people need to shower in the morning or at night, what time will breakfast will need to be eaten, if the children will be car riders or will be taking the bus, and all the other details. Be sure to get into a sleep schedule a week before school starts so everyone is well rested before that first day.
Organize all the school supplies (backpacks, binders/notebooks, pens/pencils) and get into the habit of planning and packing lunches the night before and having healthy options for those afterschool snacks. It’s a good idea to have your child choose their outfit the night before school too.
If your child is attending a new school this year, try meeting a few children before school starts and attend the school open house.
As the school year approaches, your child may show signs of anxiety. He or she may be experiencing headaches, tummy aches, avoidance, sleep disturbances, and irritability and may not know how to express their emotions.
Let your child know that it’s ok worry. It’s not helpful for you to dismiss their feelings. Don’t say “don’t worry” or “just relax!” Instead, try to make it productive by having them verbalize their concerns and brainstorm together. The anxious thought cycle of “what ifs” and “I cant’s” is overwhelming and can create a feeling of helplessness.
One way to combat this is to practice reframing. Name a worry floating around your brain right now. What is the worry telling you? Break the worry down -- is it 100% accurate? And then change the worry into a positive thought!
Having good coping skills is a great way to help with anxiety. Some of the coping skills you can share with your child can be, deep breathing, using a stress ball, writing it down, or getting help from an adult. Practice coping skills with your child to show them that even grown-ups need stress relief too!
Everyone has stress and can feel anxious from time to time, so empathize often, let your children know that you understand and that they are not alone.
If your child’s symptoms last for longer than two weeks or has thoughts about suicide, it is time to contact professional help. Contact your child’s physician or a local mental health provider, Children’s Advantage at 330-296-5552 or Coleman Health Services 330-296-3555.
Have a safe and healthy school year!