Kids will be headed back to school again before you know it and along with scheduling physicals, eye exams, and vaccines, it’s important to think about your children’s mental health too. Coordinator of Behavioral Health, Nikki Shields, shares the following back-to-school tips with parents and caregivers:

  • Talk with your kids! And by that I mean, listen to your kids. As parents and caregivers, sometimes we do too much talking and what our kids really need is for us to listen to what they have to say. I know we are just brimming with wisdom that we want to share with them but when is the last time that someone telling you what to do motivated or inspired you? With school-age children, one of the best ways to get them talking (and thinking!) is to ask them open-ended questions and then give them the floor. Here are some sample questions to get the conversation started:
    • School starts again soon, what do you miss most about last school year?
    • What are you most excited about in the new school year?
    • What are you least excited about?
    • What is something you wish you could change about school?
    • What is something that was difficult for you last year and how did you get through it?
    • What is something you wish was easier for you?
    • Tell me about a time you were nervous at school. What happened? How did you manage your worry?
    • Who at your school makes you feel safe or understood?
    • What is a goal you have for yourself this school year?
    • How can I (or other supportive adults) help you to have a good school year?
  • Anxiety is normal and kids (adults too!) need to feel anxious sometimes. Anxiety motivates and protects us and it’s important that both kids and parents realize that sometimes we need to feel worried. Anxiety is the feeling that pushes us to study for a test or practice a speech. Anxiety helps us to avoid or stay safe in dangerous situations. When kids learn that anxiety isn’t always a bad thing, oftentimes they feel less anxious even when they are nervous about something because they understand that their brain is trying to help them.
  • Even if your child is showing more anxiety than is necessary and helpful, give it time. New routines and schedules take a while to get used to and often, a little more time to adjust to recent changes is all that is needed. If your child’s anxiety is off the charts and creating problems at home and school, reach out to your pediatrician, a counselor, or other healthcare provider to find out about available options to help your child.

For more mental health tips and articles, check out The Behavioral Health Blog with Nikki Shields or call the Quincy Medical Group Behavioral Health Department at 217-222-6550, ext 3418 for information about our programs and services.