How Families Can Prioritize Mental Health During Back-to-School
If you have a kid heading back to school, you have a lot on your plate. There are many things to think about as the new school year begins, including your child’s mental health. You can’t be at school with them, but you can prepare them to face any challenge. Prioritize your child’s mental health this year with these tips.
Bullying can have serious, long-lasting effects on your child’s mental health. It can lower their self-esteem and cause feelings of rejection and isolation.
Kids that struggle with bullying can suffer from anxiety and depression, which can escalate to acute stress or post-traumatic stress disorder without proper intervention. Bullying also increases the risk of your child engaging in risky behaviors, including violence and substance abuse.
Talk to the school about a bullying situation, but also explain to your child that this happens to many kids and assure them that they’re perfect just the way they are.
You can help your child by creating a list of responses for them to give when someone says something hurtful to them. This could be a calm “Leave me alone” or “Back off.” Another good response is to dismiss the bully’s words with an “OK” or “Whatever” or laugh at the comment to reduce its value. Responding with more insults will only escalate the situation.
You can practice those responses with them in role-play scenarios so they feel more prepared when they encounter them at school. You can also help build their confidence by putting them in activities and social situations where they thrive.
Peer pressure can lead to adverse mental health effects, make kids do things they know are wrong, or encourage unhealthy thinking and habits. Negative peer pressure can lead to anxiety, depression and isolation. The stress from wanting to fit in and the temptation to do the wrong that comes from it can be overwhelming for your child.
You can help your child cope with pressure in a few ways. First, create open communication with them about any actions or concerns without scolding or judging them.
Also, be sure to teach your child to assert their boundaries and help them come up with creative solutions to get out of situations where they’re uncomfortable. Teach them that real friends won’t try to force them into a harmful activity and will respect their boundaries and wishes.
Don’t be afraid to share your experiences with peer pressure and what you’ve learned from them. Make an effort to get to know your child’s friends and their families so you better understand their environment. Encourage your child to seek positive relationships and friendships.
At first, it may not seem like being organized is in the same category as the other issues mentioned, but having an unclean environment can be a sign and trigger of poor mental health.
Taking time to declutter and organize your home helps your child start the school year off on the right foot by giving them a stress-free environment to begin and end their day. Teach them how to maintain their spaces so clutter doesn’t overstimulate their minds throughout the year.
Things scattered about your home can be overwhelming to everyone’s senses. The more items your eyes take in, the more overwhelmed your brain becomes. This increases anxiety.
Your home doesn’t have to be spotless, but having designated places for your items can help things seem more orderly and help your child’s senses relax.
Keeping your children healthy has always been a priority during back-to-school season, especially in recent years. Good physical health is closely tied to mental health in many ways.
Missing school due to a cold or flu can be stressful for children. In addition to teaching them about good hand hygiene, you can also protect them from germs through a healthy diet. Prioritize making meals full of vitamins and nutrients that will boost their immune system.
Along with focusing on healthy food, you can also make an effort to encourage physical activity for the whole family. Going on family walks after school is a great way to boost everyone’s moods and bond together.
Even when you closely monitor your child’s online activity, social media can still have a negative impact on their mental health.
Your child can easily fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others or setting unrealistic expectations for their life. This can lead to internalizing negative experiences and developing anxiety and depression over what they have and have not achieved.
To combat these risks, encourage your family to take technology breaks during the week. Whether you choose to do this every day or once a week, find ways for your family to spend time together without using your phones.
Parents, be sure to practice what you preach here. If you set a rule for your children not to check social media before bed, you should try to follow it, too. Not only will this set a positive example, but it will give you some relief, as well.
Prioritizing Mental Health
Prioritizing your child’s mental health helps them feel more confident and secure. You also show that you’re always there for them, no matter what the school year brings.
Help them combat peer pressure by utilizing these tips to ensure your child avoids being bullied.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She strives to live a happy and healthy life with her family by her side.