Your Mental Health Going Back to School
The Corona Virus has caused some major disruptions to daily life for kids and teens, and they’re feeling these changes deeply. While some are very excited to see their friends going back to school, others might be feeling very anxious and scared, which is natural under these circumstances. We want to help parents navigate some of these complicated emotions and have a chat about mental health for teens and any mental health stigma because there is nothing wrong with not feeling like yourself occasionally, but it’s important to communicate these feelings.
Have an Open Conversation
According to UNICEF, a great start to easing your teens’ fear is to have an open conversation about what it is that’s worrying them and letting them know that it’s natural to feel anxious. Children might be feeling nervous or reluctant to return to school, especially if they have been learning at home for months. They also face another challenge of maintaining social distancing at school, which means they might not be around their friends as often or at all.
Encourage your child or teenager to think about other ways to bond and stay connected with their friends if they haven’t already. Reassure them about safety measures in place to keep students and teachers healthy. Remind your teens about the positives – that they’ll be able to still see their friends and teachers (if they’re physically returning to classrooms) and continue learning new things. After they start school, check in with them to see how they’re doing. Their emotions will change regularly, and you need to show them that’s okay.
Set Goals for the Schoolyear
If your teen’s school starts to slowly return, they might feel anxious about being separate from their friends. Continue to reassure your child that schools will open again for everyone once it’s safe. When the official reopening of schools is announced, help them get ready to return by sharing information on when and how this will happen. Letting your teen know ahead of time that schools may need to close again will help them to be prepared for the period of adjustment ahead. Also, help them set goals for the schoolyear without putting too much pressure for good grades. Your goals can be as simple as using your planner until the school year ends or making sure you read a book at least once a month. That way, your child can have a focus for the schoolyear to drive their motivation.
Follow Precautions to Stay Safe
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a safety guide that your teen and school can follow when classes start. Reassure your child that being cautious does not have to be scary. They just need to make sure their hands stay clean with soap and water or a hand sanitizer, if the school allows students to bring their own. Wear decorative masks that shows off your teenager’s style and personality a bit, so they can have fun and feel good while wearing some sort of protection. Maybe even purchase masks together and make it a fun and bonding experience!
It’s important to know that it’s okay to feel unwell mentally every now and then. To students returning to school in the fall, understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect person, so if you ever feel like you need to talk, reach out to your parents, guidance counselor, teacher, or friend to let them know how you feel. If you don’t understand why you might feel the way you do, google around and read some mental health blogs. There’s nothing wrong with learning and acknowledging these emotions, so you can begin to deal with them in a calm, collected manner. There is no shame in asking for help from mom and dad or any adult! Knowledge is power and asking for help is a sign of strength so be smart and strong and always communicate!
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