The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and stress for students, teachers and parents alike.
Change can be challenging, and it is important to remember that not every person reacts to change in the same way.
The first step to help your children is to keep a healthy mind-set and focus on the positive.
As the school year continues, students will need varying behavioral health support based on their age and the class format.
Middle school, high school and college students may find their emotions vary between excitement and anxiety.
Elementary school students may not fully understand why all the health and safety practices are necessary.
Talk with your kids about how changes in daily routines can be a challenge for everyone, even adults. Share that school administrators and teachers are probably feeling anxious also.
For anyone feeling anxious, it’s common to be irritable, or feel a sense of loss or sadness. Problems with sleep, physical tension and worry can result.
Consider these mental health tips to help kids and families get through the school year:
BE AWARE, SUPPORTIVE
Recognize your children’s concerns or anxiety, and talk about their fears. Be patient as they work through loss of the way things were.
Maintain a positive attitude about learning new ways to learn. Encourage your children to see this as an adventure.
Learn new skills to manage stress. Explore how relaxation, mindfulness or yoga can calm the mind.
Several free classes and mental health apps are online. Many of these skills are portable and can be used anytime, anywhere.
KEEP A DAILY ROUTINE
Aim to wake up and go to bed as close as you can to the same times each day.
Stay hydrated, try to keep up with a healthy diet and focus on increasing physical activity during the day.
A healthy body helps maintain a healthy mood and mind-set.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Continue to practice safety measures at home and when out in public, including washing your hands, wearing a face mask and social distancing. Talk to your children about the importance of these measures to keep everyone safe.
While social connections became mostly virtual in the height of the pandemic, it is valuable to spend time with those who care about you.
Schedule time to stay connected to friends and family, whether it be a 15-minute phone call or an in-person play date for your children with a family you are comfortable being around.
DISCONNECT FROM THE NEWS
Remember to disconnect from the news. Spending between 15 and 30 minutes one to two times a day is usually enough to keep informed but not overwhelmed.
GET OUTSIDE HELP
Some people may struggle with more significant mental health difficulties so if you believe your children need additional resources, don’t hesitate to talk with their pediatrician or another mental health resource.