The back-to-school season can be hectic for parents and students alike, but this year brings additional challenges.
Many schools are resuming in-person instruction, in some capacity, which means students are returning to the classroom after months of remote learning.
In addition to buying school supplies and finishing up your summer reading lists, make sure you’re taking steps to protect your mental health.
Here are some simple tips to help you out.
Be patient, flexible and prepared for a little uncertainty.
- THERE will be many changes and challenges, remember to be patient with school administrators and teachers and be flexible when things change.
- EXPECT a certain degree of uncertainty and be ready to adapt. When something changes, talk to your kids to help them understand what’s happening and why. A little understanding goes a long way in reducing anxiety.
Communicate with your kids and with your school.
- KNOWLEDGE is one of the best tools you have against anxiety, so stay in close communication with your children and your school.
- COMMUNICATE with your child’s teacher to stay in the loop with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) protocols at school and talk to your kids to see how they’re adjusting.
- IF something comes up, be proactive in talking to your kids about the change.
Take care of your own physical and mental health.
- TAKE steps to protect your own physical and mental wellbeing such as exercise and relaxing hobbies – reading and meditating.
- AFTER seeing the kids off to school, take a few minutes to relax and centre yourself before you continue your day.
- GO for a walk during your lunch break, squeeze in a quick workout after work, whatever you can manage to stay healthy.
Encourage your children to acknowledge and express their emotions.
- CHILDREN often have trouble understanding their emotions, especially difficult emotions such as fear or anxiety. Encourage your children to get into the habit of expressing their emotions so you can work through them together.
- ASK questions and provide validation, helping your child understand that whatever they are feeling, it’s okay – there are no “good” or “bad” emotions.
Get extra support when you need it.
- BE available to your children when they need to talk and take advantage of the resources you have available when you need a little help yourself.
- FIND a parent support group if your child struggles with a particular challenge (such as autism or ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and consider play therapy.
- LEAN on your own family and friends and consider talking to your doctor or trying online counselling to support your own mental health.
The 2019-2020 school year was unlike any other and while things are slowly returning to normal, the upcoming school year is bound to be another challenging one.
As a parent, it’s your job to protect your kids and to help them through the challenges but you still need to realise that you’re human yourself.
Follow the tips above to protect your own mental health and to help your children protect theirs.