It is almost that time of year again. School aged children, whether ready or not, will be going back to school. Some have relocated while others await new challenges and situations from attending a higher level school i.e., advancing to middle school or high school. Parents, educators and others need to be mindful of the difficult adjustments that some children face. Research has continuously proven that a variety of psychosocial, adjustment and health problems impact learning and performance in a profound way. Children and teenagers have the propensity to internalize some emotions which could lead to poor academic performance (School Mental Health Project, 2010).
The following are suggestions to follow to ease difficult adjustments.
1. Show that you care and are open to talking. Keep the communication lines open. A child needs to feel that others are receptive and understand.
2. Be physically and emotionally available to the child. Genuine interest in a child’s well-being requires face to face time (without distractions such as a cell phone).
3. Realize that simply listening is a crucial step. Everything does not have to be solved in one quick step.
4. Pay attention to your emotions as he/she relates to you. If the child confides in you, that displays trust.
5. Gauge a child’s response to how much help he/she wants. A child may want you to be very involved or just take a silent back seat approach (and be available when he/she decides).
6. When attempting to help formulate solutions, involve the child in his/her own approach. Don’t be demanding of the child to follow your rules and ways of approaching things.
7. Reinforce good sleeping, exercise and eating habits.
8. Encourage the utilization of positive coping skills. Ensure that the child engages in healthy, enjoyable activities that encourage good mental, emotional and physical health.
School Mental Health Project: Mental Health in Schools: An Overview (2010). Center for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/aboutmh/mhinschools.html.
- Cynthia Polk, Clinical Director, LCSW