Mental Health Experts Offer Advice For Parents, Kids As They Go Back to School
(KNSI) – As kids return to class, mental health experts are offering tips to both parents and students on how to adjust to the start of a new school year.
Central Minnesota Mental Health Center’s school therapist Jamie-Sue Peterson says it is okay for parents to be sad that summer is over.
“I think parents guilt themselves a lot about feelings over school starting. And they kind of feel like ‘well everybody goes back to school’ so it shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it feels like it is, but it is okay that those feelings are there. It’s normal.”
To help get over the first-day blues, she says parents can come up with a special way to say goodbye, spend extra time with their kids at the end of the day or find something fun to look forward to at the end of the first week.
For some parents, sending their last child off to school or away to college can cause a parent to experience a kind of grieving.
“Because it is kind of a loss, it’s a loss of the thing that you’re most used to or a loss of the way that you’ve always identified yourself for a really long time now. So, when your last child is headed off to school, it’s sort of introducing a new phase into your life. And that can feel kind of unsettling.”
Peterson says acknowledging your feelings is the best way to work through them.
Kids can also have a tough time adjusting to a new school year. Peterson says it will go a long way if parents can keep a positive attitude.
“I think it’s easy for us to commiserate with kids because it is hard. It’s hard to go back to school. It’s hard to sit inside and have to do your work and you don’t get to decide what to do any part of your day anymore. But I think the way we shape our thoughts about things is really important. And the way we do that is with our language and with what we say about things.”
She says to focus on the positive aspects of school. So instead of saying, how was your day, ask kids to tell you something they learned about that day.
If your child is having difficulty adjusting to returning to school, let the teacher know.
“So, being in touch with the teachers and with the school and letting them know right away that things are kind of tough with getting there and getting started in the day is super helpful. A lot of times they can come up with something they can do right away in the morning at school that can kind of help kids ease into the day a little bit.”
Peterson said while getting into a school routine is most helpful a week in advance, it is never too late to start.
The first day of school for all students in the area is Wednesday.
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