Going back to school is a time when parents and kids alike experience a mix of feelings. It’s a time of excitement, anticipation, and learning that also brings challenges that require adaptation. There are a number of ways to help your kids develop resilience and allow them space to express their emotions as the school year unfolds.
“One of the best ways to help children regulate their emotions is to give them daily structure,” said Don Mordecai, MD, national mental health leader for Kaiser Permanente. “It’s important to focus on the things we can control. Establishing routines for the school year can provide a sense of normalcy and help them cope with uncertainty and change.”
Dr. Mordecai also recommends that parents model healthy habits by caring for themselves.
“Take care of yourself with regular physical activity and adequate rest.”
If you can remain healthy and calm, you’ll be better able to help your children manage the stresses of this time. Creating routines for you and your children is the best way to make sure you keep up healthy habits. A regular family walk, for example, provides both physical activity and a time to check in with each other. And establishing regular bedtimes and wake-up times helps to keep the body clock on track.
“It helps to focus on the positive whenever you can,” said Dr. Mordecai. “Encourage your kids to talk about the things they’re looking forward to about the new school year, but be open to whatever they may have to say. It’s important for kids to know that they won’t overwhelm those who care for them if they express their true feelings.”