The back-to-school transition can be difficult for children and their caregivers on several levels. It’s a time when parents need to exercise grace and ask for support when needed. Similarly, they should be intentional in helping their children succeed as they begin another academic year.
Here are a few tips (in no particular order) we recommend to help reduce stress and anxiety for everyone in your household:
Establish a Routine
Creating a flexible daily schedule that balances schoolwork, personal time, extracurricular activities, and social interactions is crucial to well-being. To implement this, consider using tools like calendars or journaling.
Journaling, in particular, can be a boon to emotional well-being. It allows individuals, including children, to track their emotional patterns and gain self-awareness. For children who may not yet be able to write, parents can assist them in discussing their day or using creative methods like drawing or play therapy to express their feelings.
Self-care should be a top priority for everyone, including children. Encourage kids to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular physical activity are foundational aspects of self-care.
Additionally, parents and caregivers can help children develop a positive self-image. Encourage them to reflect on what they appreciate about themselves and celebrate accomplishments. When children like themselves, they are more likely to take better care of their well-being and turn into adults with healthy self-esteem.
Engage in Brain-Boosting Activities
It’s never too soon to consider your child’s cognitive health and development. For instance, you might encourage them to learn a new language, solve puzzles like Sudoku, or pursue a hobby that challenges their mind. Such activities can help create new pathways in the brain and promote emotional well-being.
Participate in Enjoyable Activities
Encourage your child to participate in healthy outlets such as sports, reading, spending time with friends, or pursuing creative outlets like writing or art. In today's structured world, where children often have packed schedules, it's important to ensure they have time for unstructured play and social interactions.
Limit Screen Time
Excessive screen time can negatively impact a child's mental health, especially if it interferes with sleep or outdoor activities. Set reasonable limits on screen time, particularly before bedtime. Consider implementing a system where children earn screen time through completing tasks or exhibiting good behavior.
Seek Help When Needed
Children may not always express their emotional struggles directly. Watch for signs such as withdrawal, changes in behavior, appetite, or attitude. If you notice patterns of behavior that indicate your child may be struggling emotionally, don't hesitate to seek professional help or counseling. Remember, it's essential to address mental health concerns promptly. Neurofeedback, like LENS offered in our office, can be one intervention that helps children with these challenges.
Teaching children to practice gratitude can significantly improve their overall perspective. Encourage them to express gratitude for the good things in their lives. You can incorporate this into daily routines, such as sharing something positive that happened during the day around the dinner table.
As children head back to school, it's essential to prioritize their mental health. Remember that every child is unique, so tailor these tips to their needs and preferences. Your support and attention to their mental well-being can help them perform at their best.