There are many ways to support your Child’s Mental Health this School Year. Here are some suggestions from the FSCS Heath Center's Behavoir Health staff.
Validate and listen to any concerns. Check in with your child frequently and listen to their concerns. Make sure to validate their emotions, letting them know their feelings and frustrations are understandable. "Rather than dismiss a child's anxiety about social situations, academic stress or COVID-19, validate what the child is saying". "For example, parents can respond by saying, ‘I know you're worried about being around that many people again. What are you most concerned about?'" (Westers, 2021).
Establish routines. Having a daily routine brings consistency and structure, which can help minimize feelings of anxiety.
Encourage overall physical health. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep, being physically active and eating healthy food. These habits can support a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Resist the urge to "rescue" your child socially: If your child has social anxiety, help them confidently re-enter the school setting – but resist the urge to "rescue" them from uncomfortable situations. "Validate your child's anxiety while also showing that you believe in them and their ability to work through the discomfort," says Dr. Westers. "A therapist may be helpful in guiding you and your child through this."
Focus on what they can control. During a time of so much uncertainty, help your child focus on what they have control over in their lives.
Supporting your child’s mental health
Teach stress-reducing activities. Teach your child to incorporate stretches, deep breathing, meditation or exercise into their daily routine to relieve anxiety.
Show encouragement and celebrate the wins. Consider sending positive or encouraging notes in your child's lunch or backpack. Small actions can show you are there for your child. After the first week of school (or after any special achievement during the school year), plan a fun celebration, such as a favorite dinner, movie night or special activity together.
Seek mental health support if needed: Although children are resilient, it's important to pay attention to signs of anxiety. If your child is prone to anxiety and continues to have difficulty coping, do not hesitate to seek
Changes to Be Mindful of:
Not connecting with school or family
Failing academics and students difficulty returning to in person learning in the classroom.
Pushing boundaries: Children may start pushing boundaries
Displaying higher levels of aggression (i.e. disobeying instructions or getting into more arguments with family members)
Important: Recognize these behaviors and when it may be time to seek additional clinical support from teachers, guidance counselors, and the FSCS Behavioral Health Team.