6 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health this School Year

back to school mental health

It’s back-to-school time — time to get school supplies, meet your child’s teachers and friends, and get organized for the year ahead.

During this time, it’s also important to prioritize our children’s mental health.  The Center of Disease Control (CDC.gov) identifies attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, behavior issues, and depression as being the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.  Additionally, depression and anxiety has increased in the United States. HealthDay News reported that one in every seven American kids between the ages of 5 - 17 years of age have participated in mental health treatment in 2021. The transition back to school can be exciting and positively stimulating, however, it can also pose mental health challenges for young people. 


This school year, lets empower our children by equipping them with tools to plan effectively, manage stress, and communicate their needs.  Here are 6 ways to support your child’s mental health this school year:


Start A Shared Calendar

Develop a calendar with your child or teen that identifies extracurricular activities, projects, and social events.  Set the expectation that these events must go into the calendar and plan for regular checkins when you can look at the calendar together and discuss deadlines. Older teens may take more ownership of their calendar.  This exercise will help them become organized, independent adults and prepare them for college expectations.  Keeping up with an organized calendar can reduce last minute situations that can create stress and anxiety. .

Prioritize a Healthy Lifestyle

Sleep is critical for a healthy lifestyle.  Children ages 13 - 18 should have 8 - 10 hours of sleep each night.  Limiting screen time before bed can help promote healthy sleep.  Work with your child’s coaches and extracurricular activities to make sure your child gets adequate down time for sleep.  Additionally, healthy meals and snacks, coupled with regular exercise can sure healthy mental health. 


Discuss Expectations

Open communication with your child is imperative.  Discuss school expectations around school work, time spent on technology, and household expectations.  Allow your child to take ownership by setting their own negative consequences for not meeting these discussed expectations. Its important to have these conversations before school starts and schedules get busy so that everyone is thinking logically instead of being reactive, thus increasing anxiety.  By setting these expectations in advance can create a more harmonious home environment during the school year. 


Set up a Technology Plan

If you have children, you more than likely have some type of gaming systems or social media apps that suck them in.  Technology plays a significant role in the life of young people today and there is no way of getting around that.  A technology plan to consider includes outlining the amount of time, purpose of use, and access during the school year.  Parents should have access to their child’s technology devices, including passwords and login information. Regular check-ins can reinforce an important understanding regarding expectations and responsibility of technology use and safety.  For teens that struggle with a healthy relationship with technology, establish rules around leaving devices at home during school hours, minimizing distractions and promoting focus.  Consider using apps that track their technology time so your family can set realistic goals around healthy use. 


Checkin About Back To School Anxiety

Anxiety around going back to school is common and normal.  Parents can help alleviate some of that anxiety by initiating contact with teachers and school staff.  Building these connections preemptively can develop a supportive school community. Additionally, encourage your child to independently take steps to connect with their teachers and school staff to build healthy relationships and ask for support. Role playing difficult scenarios with your child can help them feel more confident navigating social interactions and seeking support. 


Focus on Balance 

Balance is a lifelong journey.  The sooner you introduce this concept to your children, the healthier they will be.  Focus on identifying a balance between supporting your child and encouraging independence. Allowing your child to experience the feeling of failure is a valuable learning opportunity.  This will build resiliency and sharpen problem solving skills. Additionally, allowing them to handle certain conflicts on their own can build their confidence. Consider allowing your teen to take the lead in most communications with teachers. 


Prioritizing your child’s mental health this school year will ensure a fulfilling school year. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, and need help with some of these steps, seek out psychoeducation from a mental health professional. They can support your family and identify the next steps.  Early intervention and support can help your child learn strategies and skills to manage their mental health. 


For mental health support services, we are here to help. Contact us today.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, grief counseling, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.


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