Kids Have Stress Too!
ESPECIALLY AT BACK TO SCHOOL TIME
AS A PARENT, YOU CAN HELP!
Helpful Information from the Social Work Department:
Parents and caregivers are often in the best position to teach their children life-long stress management skills, and there are many strategies that can help! There is no better time to practice some of these strategies than in the fall when children are going back to school.
Here are some simple, yet important strategies parents and caregivers can use to help:
1. Start preparing your kids for school at least a week before:
- Shop for clothes, groceries and back to school supplies that are needed.
- Practice the route to school so they know how to get there safely. If possible, meet the teachers and visit the school with them ahead of time so that they know their way around and feel more comfortable, especially for those kids that are more anxious or are going to a new school for the first time. - Have your kids get back into their school schedule, including a regular sleep routine and morning and evening rituals, such as making lunch or setting clothes out the night before.
- If possible, in a fun way, have your kids view some of their school material before school starts, to get them thinking and reading again and to help them remember what they covered last year.
- Review with your child, the daily routine that he/she will follow. For example, “You will get up at (time of day)….”, “Your first class will be….”, “I will pick you up from school at (time and location)” …etc., so they know what to expect. You might even want to write out the schedule of daily activities as a fun exercise to do together.
- Arrange fun “play dates” with neighbourhood children that go to your child’s school, so that they can develop some friends and a support system before and after school starts.
2. Prepare a “Must Know” list for the school and teacher. The list will provide important information for the teacher, school office, or day care staff, such as allergies, illnesses, physical limitations, or necessary accommodations that might need to be made, such as the best seating arrangement for your child in the classroom.
3. Remind your child that you are there for them at all times. Send a little note with your child in their lunch box or give them a small object from home to comfort them if they are feeling anxious when at school. Show our children every day that you love them by giving them a hug or telling them how much you care. Congratulate them on milestones that they reach, no matter how small. Remember to tell your child that it is OK to make mistakes – school is all about learning and improving each day.
4. Listen carefully and respectfully to your children when they talk and watch for signs of stress – both before school starts and several weeks after school begins. Note that signs of stress are not always obvious. Don’t forget to ask your kids if they have any concerns or worries about the new school year, then follow up on their concerns and provide information, reassurance and problem solving help, as needed. If you think your child may be dealing with stress that seems more serious than usual, like a learning disability or severe anxiety, consider seeking some additional information and/or professional help from your family doctor.
5. Be careful not to overload your child with too many competitive activities outside of school. Sometimes the best cure for stress is just to have some quiet time, or to have them be involved in a variety of non-competitive activities in the community. Kids also need some time on their own. Listening to music, playing with a pet, reading, or playing quietly may help them feel better. Doing nothing is fine too!
6. Finally, maintain an optimistic outlook yourself. Be positive and help make school fun. Don’t complain about a teacher or the school in front of your children. Watch also that your own stress at this time of year does not negatively affect your children – they will pick up on your reactions and this can create even more anxiety for them. Practice good stress management for yourself, too!
Information is provided by the Psychology Foundation of Canada as part of the PFC’s Kids Have Stress Too! program. Strategies provided are only guidelines and are not meant to be prescriptive.
For more information, please visit the Canadian Psychological Association website at www.cpa.ca.Visit - The Buzz Board