With all that has occurred in the last two years, it’s been a lot. It’s been a lot mentally for most adults to handle. So, it’s no secret that students also experience mental health challenges. Think about it, gone are the days when students are just faced with the usual challenges of growing up, making friends, playing sports, or thinking about what to wear for homecoming. With new variants of COVID immerging, many students and their families are struggling with losing loved ones on top of what to expect in the new school year.
Mental health is an essential part of your student’s overall wellbeing. Learning how to support your student through difficult times and reducing their risk for anxiety and depression is key to ensuring they have a positive and productive year. Here are a few tips I believe will help you put H.A.P.P.Y – Have A Positive and Productive Year on the top of students’ school supply list.
Yep, we all experience stress, even our students, no matter their age. So helping them have a positive and productive year includes understanding what stresses them out and what you can do to help them learn how to manage stress. Cause let’s be honest, stress isn’t going anywhere. But I know what you’re thinking. What could they possibly be stressed out about?! Listen, our kiddos aren’t immune to challenges or life’s ups and downs. Students stress out about school demands and frustrations, taking on too many activities, or having too high expectations placed on them by themselves or others. Many struggle with negative thoughts or feelings about self, changes in our bodies, problems with friends and/or peers at school, home life, death of a loved one, or family financial problems, to name a few. So, if you notice your student experiencing mood swings, trouble at school, changes in eating and sleeping, or acting out, perhaps they are experiencing physical symptoms like upset stomachs, body aches, a racing heartbeat, poor concentration, and headaches. These are all tell, tells that something is going on. Your student could be overwhelmed by stress.
Here’s what you can do to help your student learn to reduce and cope with stress:
Slow down. It’s easy to find yourself rushing around when you’re busy at home and work. Make a deliberate effort to spend more time with your kids. Scratch some nonessential tasks off your to-do list.
Teach coping strategies. Be a role model by acting calm, patient, and cheerful under pressure. Rehearse dealing with frustrating situations. Make a game out of breathing exercises and naming feelings.
Be consistent. Structure helps kids to feel safer and more secure. Establish daily routines, like regular mealtimes and bedtimes. Explain house rules and follow through with enforcing them. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being flexible when an exception is warranted.
Stay active. Moving around is a great way to lift your spirits and release tension. For a bigger boost, exercise and play sports outdoors where you can enjoy the fresh air and green spaces.
Make art. Draw portraits, draw, or create a collage. Creative projects are another way to deal with intense emotions. Stock up on craft supplies online or at a local hobby shop.
Share the funny. Laughter relaxes your body and releases hormones that make you feel happier. Watch funny movies and read comic books.
Practice self-care. Staying strong and resilient can make your student’s home life more peaceful. Invest in yourself by eating a healthy diet, working out, and getting plenty of sleep.
Get and Stay Connected
School brings an additional layer of things to do. From the open house, homework, school projects, and sports, it’s easy to think you’re staying connected with your student as you’re running them from one event to the next. Check out these daily techniques to help your student stay connected:
Start conversations. Healthy relationships depend on constructive communication. Ask your children what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Listen when they talk. Spend one-on-one time with each child and let them know you’re available.
Turn off devices. Technology makes our lives easier, but we can set unhealthy examples instead demonstrate what it means to balance. It’s up to us to set the tone and set reasonable boundaries. Otherwise, the device will become a source of stress. Designate specific times each day to disengage from phones, computers, and televisions.
Eat together. Commit to dining as a family for at least one meal each day whenever possible. The menu can be simple if you’re short on time. Focus on creating a connection that fosters a pleasant atmosphere and friendly discussion.
These H.A.P.P.Y strategies can help your child to thrive now and throughout their lives.