Let’s take a moment to acknowledge just how weird last school year was!
When COVID-19 hit around mid-March, schools across the U.S. made the difficult decision to move classes online or rely on parents to essentially home school their children. This placed a lot of stress on everyone involved. Students struggled to focus in a home environment full of distractions, parents tried their best to balance work, school, and life, and teachers lost the personal connection they shared with their students. All of these challenges caused great mental strain.
With a new school year set to begin soon, the experts at the Stormont Vail Behavioral Health Center have some tips to help you speak to your children and teens about stress.
1. Remind them to love themselves
Loving yourself is important because it builds confidence that you can reach your goals and face difficult situations. Help your child understand that no one is perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes. The most important thing is that they try hard and do the best they can.
2. Let them know it’s okay to “let it out”
Feeling strong emotions is perfectly acceptable at any age. However, young children and teens tend to struggle most with their feelings. Your child or teen may need to cry, yell or even laugh. These are all ways to release the feeling of pent up emotions.
3. Help them manage their time
After a long break from school, it can be overwhelming to try to get back into the swing of things. Help your child or teen set a schedule and create small, achievable goals. Also, work with your child or teen to form relaxing activities. Listening to music, reading a book, playing video games or taking a walk are all ways to help break up the day-to-day grind.
4. Remember their diet
You’ve probably heard of the Quarantine-15. It’s tempting to snack while forced to stay home with nothing else to do. However, it’s vital to get your child or teen back on a healthy, nutritious diet with school back in session. Limit sugar and caffeine, encourage fruits and vegetables and watch refined fats and carbs. (Don’t forget, sleep is a huge factor in a healthy, balanced diet. Encourage your child to go to bed at a specific time each night.)
5. Lookout for substance abuse
Teens especially may turn to drugs, alcohol or vaping to cope with difficult emotions. If you find out that your child or teen has or is currently under the influence of drugs or alcohol, remind them that those substances won’t solve their problems. It’s vital they understand that you are looking out for their best interests as their parent or guardian.
6. Be an open door
There is nothing shameful about asking for help. Make sure your child or teen know that you are always available to talk, no matter what the subject may be. If you find your child needs professional help, reach out to a certified, trained mental health professional. No one should suffer in silence.
7. Tell them you love them
This is easily the most overlooked way to care for your child. One of the biggest stresses in a child or teens life is winning approval. They must know you will love them no matter what and that you are proud of them.
Back to school can be an exciting time for students. However, it can also bring a host of scary, stressful situations. Talk to your child or teen openly about the various ways they can cope with their emotions. And don’t forget, the experts at Stormont Vail Behavioral Health Center are always available to help you and your children manage life’s difficulties. Discover the many ways they can empower your wellbeing.