The start of a new school year can produce a number of emotions for students and their families. Students can feel excited to see all of their friends again and eager for the fun that follows. They can be nervous about the academics. They might experience anxiety about being back in school. Regardless of the emotions that they feel, our youth need to be supported at the transition back to school. This article will discuss strategies families can employ to help smooth out the transition process.
One of the most important things to overall mental health and academic performance is having a standard sleep routine. Lack of sleep is a predisposition to negative emotions. What is a normal level of anxiety about a test can become paralyzing with diminished sleep. Establishing a sleep routine is paramount for optimal performance.
Experts recommend removing televisions from youth bedrooms. An estimated 60-70% of U.S. youth have televisions in their bedrooms. Numerous studies show that this adversely impacts sleep. Getting televisions out of the bedroom is a great first step. However more steps need to follow. Smartphones and laptops also need to be removed from bedrooms.
Get Kids Involved in Extracurricular Activities
Ask your children what they are interested in. Find activities aligned with their interests. Try new things to see what sticks. Extracurricular involvement can provide an enriching experience. It can also provide additional structure to kids schedules. It is not ideal for children to come home to an empty house with nothing to do after the school day ends. Extracurricular activities can serve as a way for children to stay busy and active.
Ask your Kids how they are Feeling
Do not believe that your kids are doing well based on what they are posting on social media. Check in with your children and really gauge how they are doing. The start of the school year can be marked with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and bullying. Have dinner with them every week and pay attention to the answers your children provide. Talk to the parents of your children’s friends.
Set Household Rules
Establish rules regarding social media and technology use in the household and stand by them. The average teenager spends between seven to nine hours per day on screens for entertainment purposes (social media, video games, television). Some good areas for rules include:
- total time limit
- what needs to be accomplished before they can use screens (homework, chores, etc.)
- rules about what time all devices need to be turned off
Align with Other Parents
Talk to the parents of your children’s friends. Share with them your household rules and the rationale behind them. It is difficult to be “the only kid” in school who is not allowed to have an electronic device in their bedroom. Try to create a community based on similar rules so that your children aren’t the only ones with them.
What do do if your Child Needs Help
If you have concerns about your child’s emotional health please do not hesitate to seek professional help. Reach out to us here at NJFAI with any questions or concerns that you have. Watch your children and trust your gut if you have concerns.