August 10, 2023

Successfully navigating the school year

These tips from Don Mordecai, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s national mental health leader, will help your kids feel more confident, supported, and ready to learn.

There are many ways parents can help their children become more resilient.

Going back to school is a time when parents and kids alike experience a mix of feelings. It’s a time of excitement and anticipation but can also bring challenges.

There are a number of ways you can help your kids cope.

Provide structure and routine

“One of the best ways to help children regulate their emotions is to give them daily structure,” said Don Mordecai, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and national mental health leader for Kaiser Permanente.

Establishing routines for the school year can help your kids deal with uncertainty and change.

Take care of yourself, too

Parents can model healthy habits by caring for themselves.

“It’s important to focus on the things we can control,” Dr. Mordecai said. “Take care of yourself with regular physical activity and adequate rest.”

If you can stay healthy and calm, you’ll be better able to help your children manage stress.

Encourage kids to talk about their feelings

Give your kids space to express their emotions as the school year unfolds. Let them know it’s normal to feel stressed or worried sometimes.

“It helps to focus on the positive whenever possible,” Dr. Mordecai said. “So encourage your kids to talk about the things they’re looking forward to.”

“But be open to whatever they may have to say,” he continued. “It’s important for kids to know that they won’t overwhelm those who care for them if they express their true feelings.”

Make sure they understand that they’re not alone. Knowing you’ll be there to help them adapt can help your kids feel more secure.

Tips to help your children during the school year

Foster open dialogue.

Ask how they feel about school this year. Check in often. Share your feelings, too.

Validate their feelings.

Let your kids know it’s normal to be nervous about starting a new school year.

Set expectations.

Come to shared agreements about schedules and routines. Let them have input.

Establish healthy habits.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Schedule regular family activities.