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Back to School Brings All the Feels

Back to School Brings All the Feels

A new school year often means lots of changes, new routines, and meeting new people. Transitioning into a school environment may be more challenging for young children who are accustomed to being with a parent or have grown up with a trusted caregiver. According to The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at CDC, until children are old enough to talk clearly about their feelings, it’s hard to explain to them that a new caregiver is going to protect them. This means it takes time for children to get used to new people. School-aged children who are sensitive or easily worried, or those who have developmental delays, may need extra time to adjust. Parents also often worry about their child making the transition. It’s easier for parents to keep calm and be reassuring if they know their child’s teacher and feel comfortable with him or her.

Over the past year we have read or seen stories on the youth mental health crisis plaguing our country. From an ongoing pandemic, lack of in-person social interactions, social upheaval, and more, kids and teens are facing once-in-a-lifetime events that even adults aren’t sure how to handle. Adolescence is already a confusing time without the added fears concerning safety in schools, safety when traveling to school, staying healthy, family financial security, and loss of loved ones. We shouldn’t be surprised that the rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, and other mental health conditions are on the rise. 

Mental Health America recognizes with their new Back-to-School Toolkit, at mhanational.org, that our youth are having “All the Feels” as they enter the new school year. These resources look at the issues young people face that are having an impact on their mental health, and offer tips on how to deal with them and the resulting emotions. The MHA toolkit can also help parents and school personnel better understand the issues, such as the effects of social media on youth mental health.

How do we address the feelings of socialization post COVID? First, you can speak with your health care provider and he or she can recommend options available. You can also reach out Psycamore, LLC. Even before the pandemic, children’s mental health was a public health concern, and levels of anxiety were on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant additional stress, fear, and worry for many families. Worries about sickness, finances, and isolation, coping with grief from loss, and having less outside help have made parenting more stressful.

Helpful tips from the CDC for Parents:

• Make sure your child has a daily, predictable routine, with regular times for healthy meals, naps, and night sleep at home. Having a rested body and knowing what to expect at home helps children cope.

• Connect with other parents who have children in the same program and can provide information and make you more comfortable with the program.

• Talk with teachers about the best way to separate from your child at the start of the day—brief goodbyes are often best.

• Try to stay calm and reassuring during transition—using a calm voice, with a relaxed face and body to let your child know that you wouldn’t leave them if he or she was not safe and protected.

• Talk with your child about what to expect and help him or her with strategies to manage stress and cope with worries. Remember to review positive parenting tips to help your children with feelings and behavior.

• Make sure your child is caught up on well-visits with a healthcare provider and is up to date with recommended vaccines, to ensure that the child is healthy and well protected.

• Monitor your child’s developmental milestones and learn what to do if there are concerns.

• Remember that this is a phase—building new relationships is a skill, and with support, children can be resilient. Even if it’s hard to separate, children will gain a new trusted relationship with their new teacher and feel more secure.

Psycamore can meet with you, discuss your concerns, and recommend treatment options best suited for you or your child. We should all be encouraged to be more open about talking about mental health disorders and seeking the treatment we need, especially for our children and adolescents. For more information visit us at www.psycamore.com, or call us at 1877PSYCH4U.

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