A child’s well being is a critical component of their confidence, success in school, and social and emotional growth. But it can be difficult to get your child to open up about their feelings or challenges so you feel fully aware of their mental health status.
There are approaches to communication and signals to pay attention to regarding your child’s mental health that can help them thrive as they return to school.
1. Talk it out together to ease anxiety
Discuss classes and pieces of school or extra-curriculars outside of the classroom to balance talking about things your child might feel nervous or excited about.
2. Frame your questions thoughtfully
Ask questions about what’s going well, but also about what’s not going well to get the full picture. Ask “What’s challenging?” instead of “Why is it challenging?” to remove any signal of accusation and help your child open up more, because they are less likely to feel defensive.
3. Look for changes in your child’s behavior
Make note of increased irritability, changes in appetite or sleep habits, or a loss of interest in their activities. These could be signs that you’re child is struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental health challenge.
While temporary behavioral changes can be considered a normal part of adjustment to the back to school routine, if they continue beyond the back to school period or create disruptions in your child’s day to day life, we recommend you seek professional help.
4. Listen and offer support so they know you’re there for them
Communicate clearly that you are available if your child wants to talk, and seek additional resources – from books to journals to a licensed therapist – if you think they need additional help.
Mental healthcare is healthcare. From parents to professionals, additional support for students can make a meaningful difference.