It’s that time of the year again
For many students, it is a time of excitement and an opportunity to reconnect with classmates. For others, however, the return to school can be stressful and difficult.
As a licensed clinical social worker who works in the school system, I see students struggle to adapt to the new routine of a school day that is packed with learning activities, as well as a number of other expectations. For some students, the transition can lead to a significant increase in stress and anxiety and these emotional responses can sometimes interfere with a successful transition and/or academic progress.
Mental Health in schools
It is important to remember that all students experience some level of anxiety and stress with the transition to a new school year. However, if the anxiety is moderate-to-severe, we can see a student really struggle to meet expectations.
When a student is experiencing anxiety, you may see some of the following behaviors:
- Fight — they could be argumentative or combative about returning to school;
- Flight — you could be seeing separation anxiety, or they may be digging their heels about getting on the bus or car to go to school; or
- Freeze — be on the lookout for indifference or lack of interest in school, which will likely be detrimental to their performance and experience.
As you and your child prepare for the new school year, here are some tips on how to get your school year started off on the right foot.
- Establish a bedtime and wake routine. Regular nighttime routines can enhance a person’s sleep patterns. In turn, plenty of rest will allow everyone to cope with their day ahead.
- Breakfast is important in order to fuel up for the work/school day.
- Find a quiet place to do homework at the end of the school day. Decide with your student if homework will be completed after school or after dinner.
- Once homework is complete, make sure to put it in the same place at the end of the day so that it is easier to locate on the way out the door if schedules run late!
Creating a space
If your child is showing any of these signs, one of the best things you can do is give your child permission to express their thoughts.
- Ask them how they’re feeling, and provide assurance that they have the strength to handle things that are stressful.
- Don’t lose sight of the positive behaviors your child is displaying. This can be really helpful in reinforcing success and will help build self-confidence whenever your child encounters anxiety.
- Following a simple routine will enhance productivity, support good grades, and make for a calmer household!
If you are seeking out mental health services, meet with one of our clinicians at the St. Charles or Algonquin offices at 847-440-2281.
Back to School: Tips to help our kids managing their Mental Health
Tina Loga, Social Worker LCSW
The Center for Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry