Excitement is in the air as our children, teachers, and staff prepare to return to school for the 2018-2019 school year. But as excitement builds, anxiety often builds as well. Social and academic pressures weigh heavily on our students as they attempt to do it all: participate in sports, maintain good grades, spend time with friends and family, and give back to their communities. Even the most adept students can feel anxiety in anticipation of the new school year ahead. What can we, as parents and caregivers, do to support our students so they have the best possible back-to-school experience?
- Create a routine. With so much change occurring at the beginning of a new school year, it is more important than ever to create stability and predictability at home. Implement a routine that works for your family and do your best to stick to that routine. Hungry, tired, stressed out kids (and parents) can’t perform their best. Eating healthy meals at predictable times, getting adequate sleep, and making room for some unstructured “down time” each day allows each of us to function and perform better.
- Keep calm. Children imitate what they see. If we, as parents, are stressed out, short-tempered, and anxiety-ridden, our children will adopt similar patterns for interacting with the world. However, if we model calm, collected, emotionally regulated behavior, our children are more likely to imitate those behaviors instead. Model calmness whenever possible because getting angry, upset, and frustrated only makes anxiety worse.
- Watch your timing. We’ve all been there: had to leave 5 minutes ago, yet we’re searching the house for homework that *should* have been placed in the book bag the evening before. Pressure mounting, we want to yell at the kids and relieve our own frustration. However, our interaction first thing in the morning sets the tone for their entire day. Should they put their homework away at night? Of course! Should you confirm that it’s been done before bed instead of when you’re hurrying out the door in the morning? Also, of course. Resist the urge to vent frustration and opt to teach at a more opportune time instead.
These are just a few ways we can cultivate good mental health within ourselves and our families. For more information on family issues, parenting, and educational support, visit https://goodmentalhealthllc.com/blog.
Wishing all of our students, teachers, and staff an amazing new school year ahead!
This article also appeared in the August 2018 issue of St. Johns Magazine
Good Mental Health, LLC is a counseling and coaching practice located in St. Johns, Florida, offering individual and family counseling to adolescents and adults. With sessions available face-to-face and via Skype, we hope to provide the tools and skills necessary to heal past wounds, grow healthy relationships, and build strong families. For more information, read more about us, or contact us here.