PORTER COUNTY | Mental Health America of Porter County realizes that the beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for families.
Children have to cope with issues such as new teachers and classmates, bigger classrooms, new routines and more schoolwork.
This time can be particularly unnerving and overwhelming for children who are facing major transitions such as starting elementary school or entering middle school. Mental Health America of Porter County suggests these proactive steps parents can take to support their child.
• Express interest and enthusiasm about the start of the school year. If you are confident and excited, your child will be too.
• If you have visited your child’s school already, you are one step ahead of the game. If not, take a walk around the school with your child and locate his or her classrooms, lunchroom, playground and restrooms. This will help keep your child from feeling lost on the first day.
• Take time to listen to your child and discuss aspects of the new school year that he or she is worried about. Remember to let your child know that it’s normal to feel nervous about the start of school. For parents of younger children, suggest that your child take a family photo or special object to school to make his or her surroundings more comfortable.
• Spend time each day talking to your child about what happened in school. Give your child positive feedback about his or her new experiences.
• Praise and encourage your child to become involved with school activities and try new things.
• Attend school functions and stay involved in your child’s education. Children whose parents are more involved with their education have higher achievement, are better adjusted and are less likely to drop out of school.
• Make a point to learn about how your child develops not just physically, but socially and emotionally, as well. If you are aware of what’s typical behavior and thoughts for your child’s stage of life, you will be able to tell more readily when things may not be right.
Anxiety and stress about starting school is normal for a child and usually passes within the first few days or weeks. If your child continues to seem anxious or stressed, it may be time to seek help. You can contact a licensed mental health professional at their school and you can talk to your child’s pediatrician about what you can do as a parent. If problems persist, consider a referral to a trained and qualified mental health professional.
MHAPC offers programs that can assist parents in accomplishing these goals. Building Up Our Youth is dedicated to teaching parents how to instill positive self-esteem and security in their children.
For more information, call Christine Pirlot, Program Director, at (219) 462-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.