As the summer winds down and children, youth and families gear up for the return to school, it is natural to experience some increased anxiety, nervousness and/or sadness.
Name Them to Tame Them
Sadness for some, that the relaxation and freedom of summer are over and the return to routine and increased expectations is upon us.
For others, an increase in anxiety can be caused by the unknown and unfamiliarity of a new classroom, new teacher and a new routine and expectations.
As children and youth attempt to navigate these emotions within the new season so do parents and caregivers. In times of struggle and potential distress, we and our children can manage these emotions. We can “name them to tame them” and use skills and strategies to accept and work them through.
As parents and caregivers, it is important for us to manage our own anxiety, sadness and other emotions in order to assure our children that they can manage.
Modelling effective ways to manage feelings shows our children and youth that getting back into a routine and tackling the unknown and unexpected is doable! Preparing to return to school successfully hinges on just that, preparing.
Strategies for Success
Anxiety Canada recommends some of the following strategies to support our children & youth as they return to school:
- Establish a School Sleep Routine
- Establish bed times for the school year and start following them
- Ensure the entire family is up when they would be for school
- For older children, give them their own alarm clock and let them practice using it
- Ensure that the entire family gets involved so that your child doesn’t feel alone with these changes
- Promote Healthy Eating Habits
- Nutrition is extremely important; it’s hard to cope well when you are tired or hungry.
- Try to have your meals around regular mealtimes
- Allow your child to pick out their favourite snacks
- Allow your child to help you plan your dinner meals
- Encourage Your Child to Share Their Worries
- Talk to your child about his or her worries, and practice coping skills
- Support your child in problem solving and planning
- Role-play different situations with your child
- Focus on the positive aspects of school, their day and friendships
- Practice calm breathing techniques with your child (ie. 4 square breathing)
- Create positive messages that your child can tell themselves to help cope with anxiety/worry
Be Involved in Their Learning
Checking in with your child each day and asking specifics about their experiences that day will let your child know that you are interested and there to support them.
Maintaining open communication with your child’s teacher will be helpful in ensuring that they understand your child’s functioning and emotional needs, and will enable them to support your child in the school and classroom.
Reaching out to your local Child & Youth Mental Health service is appropriate when your child’s emotions are concerning, distressing and impacting their ability to function effectively on a daily basis. An increase or change in difficult to manage emotions and behaviours is also another reason to reach out for support.
Mental Health Services
Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions offers free, no charge Child & Youth Mental Health services to children and youth under the age of 18 years, and their families in the District of Muskoka.
Mental Health services can support children, youth and their families in learning how to manage difficult emotions, anxiety, depression, big behaviours and relationship struggles along with many other mental health concerns.
We provide support to parents of infants and toddlers as well as to children and youth individually, often involving their parent(s) or caregiver(s) in the treatment. We know that it is extremely difficult for children and youth to implement strategies and work to change behaviours and thinking if they do not have the support of a parent or caregiver. So involving the adult in the therapy is extremely important and helpful.
To access free Child & Youth Mental Health support through Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions in the District of Muskoka, please call (705) 645-4426 x 6270 to speak with our Intake Clinician who will schedule you a Counseling “Walk-In” Session to meet with a therapist to discuss the problem and provide you with a listening ear and some recommendations to help you move forward.