The start of a new school year can also be extra tough for kids and with Canadian statistics stating that 1 in every 5 children will experience a mental health struggle as a result of the pressures caused by the pandemic, the need for mental health support with children, youth and families has never been greater.
To help parents measure their readiness in identifying and supporting their child’s mental health struggles this school year, Pathstone Mental Health has put together a short quiz as well as a school prep kit full of tips to try to help with the transition to the school year ahead.
BUTTON: TAKE THE QUIZ (should open as a popup and have interactive questions).
Pathstone’s back-to-school prep tips:
Expand Their Social Circle
Particularly important if your kids haven’t been interacting as much with others face-to-face, a few scheduled play dates or even just hanging out in public places where they’re bound to run into other kids, can go a long way in helping them catch up on that social development they’ve missed out on.
Reduce Screen Time
Kids’ screen time necessarily increased exponentially during the pandemic as a means of maintaining connections with friends and family (not to mention attending class!), but it’s time to reign it in, Clayton explains. According to the Well-Being of Ontario Students Report, almost one third of the 91% of children in grades seven through 12 who are on social media, are on it five or more hours a day. She recommends swapping out screens for in-person activities like outdoor play, baking or board games instead.
Improve Their Focus
If you’ve successfully convinced your teen or pre-teen to play a game, choose one that will build on their executive functioning skills like concentration, planning, memory and even team- building. Exercising these skills will help your child fall into step at school more easily.
Establish a Healthy Sleep Routine
Getting to bed earlier and at around the same time every night leading up to the big day will help make the transition back to class easier.
Help Them Visualize the School Day
Taking to your child about the friends they’ll see and the teacher they’ll have can also help with the adjustment.
Have Some Fun!
Picking out a new backpack and school supplies can help replace some of the negativity surrounding school with positive energy and excitement.
Manage Your Own Emotions
“About 65% of our temperament is genetic”, explains Clayton. “Parents play a huge role in their child’s anxiety both biologically and environmentally, so it’s important to manage your own emotions around them. If you set a positive tone about going back to school, they’ll pick up on that.”
If you suspect your child is struggling with their mental health, reach out to Pathstone. Their Crisis & Support line operates 24/7 at 1-800-263-4944 and their in-person mental health walk-in clinics are for youth 18 and under, as well as parents and caregivers who have questions about how to best support their kids. For locations and hours of operation, CLICK HERE (LINK TO www.pathstonementalhealth.ca/walk-in-clinic).