With the summer slowly but surely coming to an end, it’s time for parents to help their children get ready for the back to school season. You know – the season of school books, pencils, notebooks, and different themed backpacks based on your child’s favorite video game, movie or TV show. Things tend to get pretty crazy when it comes to transitioning from summer fun times that were spent in the sun to being back in the classroom. Back to school time can be a lot when it comes to a child’s mental health and stability. Luckily, there are lots of tips and tricks to help families navigate getting through the initial classroom days.
Keep Up to Date with Their Busy Schedule
With the kids being in school, this is also the time for them to become involved in various clubs, sports teams and other outside group activities. If they are involved in multiple things it can be easy to forget what days they have what. Parents can make efforts to add reminders in their own busy schedules to include their kids’ activities to make sure they arrive on time. If there is a moment where both parents and their kids are free one night, parents can do regular check-ins and encourage different family activities to engage in. Asking your child to go for a walk, engage them in a simple play game (uno, board game, cards), or asking them to do a task with you may help facilitate a conversation about their mindset.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Whenever a child experiences a bad day at school, it may be challenging for parents to pick up on the signs that they may not be doing so well. This could also be because the child is not really sharing much and trying to keep everything to themselves. Cleo Caudillo, a clinician at the Juniper Center, states that “Parents may notice behavioral issues, mood swings, or changes in attitude when children struggle to communicate with their words. This is an opportunity to check in with them. Different ages may require different approaches to the mental health challenges children can have during the school year.” Figure out the best approach for your child and then try to make them feel comfortable enough that they can say anything that’s on their mind, whether it’s about the school day or about their favorite things.
Partake in Deep Breathing Exercises
Another great technique that parents and their kids can do together in order to truly take a step back and relax is by participating in deep breathing exercises. It’s good for all of us to breathe mindfully, so practice along with your kids. Margo Jacquot suggest to take some time to “take some deepish breaths (if you can). These breaths are slow. Ask younger kids to pretend there’s a balloon in their belly that they’re trying to fill. They can watch their belly rise and fall as the balloon fills and empties. Older kids can understand that deeper breaths help activate our parasympathetic, or rest state of our nervous system. Breathe in while saying a word to yourself like “calm” or “chill”, and exhale while thinking of a word like peace or relax. This is great for calming nervousness and anxiety. Deep breathing is free, and can be a life-long tool for us all.”
Help Out Your Child As Much As Possible
Whether your child is entering a new grade at the same school they were at the previous year or attending an entirely new school, it’s always good for parents to make sure that their kids are well-adjusted to the changes that are coming up for them this year. If your child is more anxious or sensitive to change, ask the school if your child can come in advance to meet their new teacher and see their new classroom. This is especially important if your child is going to a brand new school. If they are going to use a locker for the first time, have them practice with you. The more they can practice and visualize everything from lockers to lunchrooms, while doing deep breathing, their stress response will likely begin to dissipate.
“If your child is struggling, you and they are not alone. While this time of year has always been a challenge for some kids, more kids are experiencing anxiety and depression than ever before. If your child needs extra help, or if you need support, we are here for you. What matters to you, matters to us.” – Margo Jacquot