Heading back to school can be both exciting and overwhelming. As a parent there are many ways to provide support as your child begins a new school year. Let’s take a look at a few:
- To reduce stress establish a routine early and ensure that routine includes sufficient sleep time. Some children and teens need as much as 9 hours or more of sleep each night. This is important to recharge their “battery” for the challenges of the next day.
- Establish age-appropriate rules that are easy to understand and consequences that are consistent. Introducing these rules before school starts allows time for adjustment. Remember consistency is the key.
- Take time to talk with your child each day using open-ended questions such as: “How was your day?”, “What did you enjoy most about today?”, “What was stressful for you?”. It’s important to share about your day, as well, and create healthy open-dialogue that sets the stage for more difficult issues.
- School can be a lonely place without support from friends. Encourage your child to reconnect with friends prior to the first day of school and discuss ways to make new friends. We all benefit from a strong support system.
- Being anxious as school begins is a normal reaction, but if your child continues to experience anxiety and/or depression seek help with a mental health professional in your community.
- Involvement with the teachers and staff at your child’s school is essential in understanding your child’s progress both academically and behaviorally. Everyone working together for the benefit of the child can ensure a successful school year.
- Be proactive in protecting your child from being bullied. Bullying includes name-calling, kicking, pushing, spreading rumors, teasing, destroying belongings, and cyber-bulling. Often these behaviors are dismissed as normal childhood behaviors and are not addressed until they have escalated. If you suspect your child is being bullied contact your school administration immediately.
Remember that your child’s emotional health is as important as their physical health. Being involved in healthy practices now, prepares them for a healthy and happy future.
– Jeannie Chapman, M.A., M.Ed.
Jeannie is the Director of Pastoral Care & Community Outreach for MLMC, holds graduate degrees in Pastoral Counseling and Education and previously worked as an educator for 12 years.