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Tips to help your kids prepare mentally for the upcoming school year.

Updated: Dec 13, 2023


The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for children, but for some, it can also be a time of anxiety and depression. Between the pandemic and recent school/mass shootings, there is a lot on the minds of students and families. It is proven that psychoeducation in our schools and communities helps us cope with anxiety and depression. Talk to your administration about Psychological First Aid and Mental First Aid training for the staff and community at your child's school. Ask questions about disaster planning in the event of an incident.


Where do we start?

First, keep in mind that anxiety is contagious, and we need to keep ourselves calm and have a strategy for speaking with our children and preparing for this school year. Kids have many concerns right now, and they differ by age and schooling type. Equipping our kids with coping skills and support is vital.





Here are some tips for helping your child cope with anxiety and depression:


-Encourage them to express their feelings openly and honestly. It’s okay to feel sad, scared, or angry.


-Validate their feelings and let them know that you understand what they are going through.


-Reassure them that they are safe and that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.


-Help them come up with a coping strategy that works for them. This could include deep breathing exercises, journaling, or listening to calm music.


-Make sure they are getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet.


-Encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports or arts and crafts.


-Talk to their teachers and/or school counselor if they are having a hard time coping.

It’s also important to remember that parents and caregivers need support too. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if you struggle to cope.


The most important thing we can do as parents and caregivers are to talk to our kids. It’s essential that we provide support and honest, factual information. By doing so, we can help our children feel safe and supported during this time.

As a parent, what should I be doing? What should we be watching for as we return to school?


Talk to kids about safety, and review the school safety plan. Ensure them that the school authorities are keeping them safe. Monitor anxiety closely.


Talk to the teacher if your child is having difficulty going to school or participating in class.


Early Elementary:

Keep it brief with simple information. Say things like “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”


Older elementary and tweens:

Acknowledge their feelings. Validate that what they are feeling is normal. For example, you could say something like, “I know you’re feeling scared about going back to school. A lot has happened this year, and it’s natural to feel this way.”


High school:

In addition to the above, encourage your teen to get involved in activism or support groups related to their passions as a way to feel empowered. Mental Health America has a great list of resources for mental health support.



Resources






Rev. Dr. Christian Frazier 

  • Chair of the BIPOC Committee Zero Suicide Alliance 

  • Member National Council of Wellbeing 

  • Board Member NAMI Hillsborough 

  • Board Member LifeLine University 

  • Mental Health First Aid Instructor St. Petersburg College

  • Motivational / KeyNote Speaker

  • Certified Life Coach

  • Certified Health & Nutrition Coach

  • Mindfulness Meditation Instructor

  • Executive Coach

  • Ordained Minister 




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