After the challenges families have faced over the past 18 months, kids finally get to be kids again – sort of… We’ve asked for some helpful back to school tips for all the parents out there.
A New School Year
This upcoming school year means having a more regular schedule, meeting up with friends again and getting to show up in new school clothes. Great for kids and parents, right?
Parents Get a Break
While there are still many COVID concerns with all the latest variants, parents will be relieved not having to help teach the kids between Zoom meetings as has certainly happened. Thank Heavens.
Unfortunately many children may be even more apprehensive about going back into the class room. Those same children may have found being at home a safe haven both mentally and physically. Now there will be strangers and new teachers to contend with – along with COVID protocols to learn.
Samantha Barnes of Sweet Spot Family Counselling Services offers these helpful back to school tips.
Tip #1 - Change
Accept that change is difficult for everyone and that there will be an adjustment period that may last longer than you think.
If you’re not sure if your child is having a tough time with the back to school transition, think about how they normally act when they’re stressed and look for those behaviours. For instance, watch for stomach or headaches. This may be caused by anxieties they’re feeling if they become frequent. Once you recognize what they tend to do under stress, you’ll be better able to understand the changes they’re dealing with.
Tip #2 - Routines
It can help to keep routines at home as predictable as possible, use calendars and weekly family meetings to talk about the week ahead and any changes that may occur. Encourage your children, especially younger ones, to talk about their feelings. With older children, allow their thoughts and concerns with upcoming events.
Tip #3 - Downtime
Allow for quiet or down time after school and/or unstructured play to release pent up energy. Kids need time to decompress and reset after school. If you move them too fast into chores or homework, it may backfire. Kids need time to regulate their bodies and emotions. Just like we need to kick back a bit after work, our kids need space from the rigors of the day as well.
Tip #4 - Be a Safe Person
Be a safe person for your children to vent and talk out their frustrations. Try to listen without problem solving for them. Instead, focus on validating their feelings and reminding them that they’re doing a good job managing through difficult times.
Tip #5 - Talk to a Professional
If things seem to be getting worse instead of better over time or your child seems depressed or anxious it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional to get some extra support.
Raising kids during a pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. When parents try to push through the tough times or troubleshoot everything on their own – the situation can become very challenging – and draining.
Take care of yourself as a parent or you’ll not be any help to your kids. The best role model you can be is the person who takes care of themselves and then takes care of their kids.
If things are beyond your control, reach out for assistance. Recognizing the need for additional professional help is half the battle won.
Introducing Samantha Barnes
Samantha Barnes is a Registered Psychotherapist, Clinical Director and Owner of Sweet Spot Family Counselling Services. As Samantha says, “My love of seeing children and families transform into their best selves and leaving their pain behind is what keeps me motivated in practice.”
“My main focus is supporting women and children dealing with sadness, loss and worries in their life that they just can’t seem to manage on their own.”
With Samantha’s guidance, you will soon find yourself living in your “Sweet Spot” again.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Veronika Kovecses