Going back to school can be exciting, and yet it can also be the cause of a case of the jitters. Students may feel stress and anxiety for many reasons, and we want to help families with the transition so we spoke to the experts at Mind Wellness Counseling.
Dr. Daryl Warner, their Supervisory Psychologist, suggests parents and caregivers should start by talking with their children; ask them questions and listen to their answers. Oftentimes, he says, parents think like an adult, when they should really try to get into the mindset of a child to truly understand their fears and stressors.
“Allow them to talk and express their feelings,” Dr. Warner continues. “All too often we don’t listen to their feelings or concerns that they might have.”
After you understand their concerns, you can start to help them strategize and discuss potential solutions. You can also share your concerns with someone at the school so they can help keep an eye on them
Another recommendation Dr. Warner gave is to start their transition back to school now, so they have a chance to become acclimated to the schedule shift before the added stress of school begins.
One thing Dr. Warner likes to suggest kids do is to talk to their friends and siblings. Encourage them to ask their older sibling, or even their sibling’s friends who the cool teacher is, how the transition from middle to high school went for them, and other things like that. Sometimes their piers can provide a more realistic expectation of what the transition will be like, and can help them assuage their fears.
School orientation should also be taken advantage of. Go with your child and help them navigate the school, practice their locker combination, and things like that, because all those individual elements can trigger anxiety.
Savannah Dynkowski, a Clinical Coordinator and Therapist with Mind Wellness Counseling, says kids should be encouraged to find their community within the school. Their community can be anyone from a trusted teacher or counselor, to an after-school group or activity. Encourage your kid to pursue their interest, and find people at school who share that interest.
You also have to look at the whole picture, says Dynkowski. For kids to have a good transition they also have to focus on eating well, getting enough sleep, doing practices that help their mental health, making sure they are physically healthy - things like that. At Mind Wellness counseling they have a Wellness Wheel with several components they like to focus on including support, financial, mental, spiritual, purpose, movement, medical, nutrition, and community.
For the full interview, and more great advice, watch the video above.
For more information on Mind Wellness Counseling and the services they offer, click or tap here.