Heading back to school can be stressful for children as well as parents. However, taking steps to address possible physical and mental health concerns before they occur can make a tremendous difference in lessening back-to-school anxiety.
If your child is transitioning into middle or high school, listen to his or her concerns. Most children adjust within the first few weeks, but others may find the changes more difficult.
Make sure your child has everything he or she needs to be healthy and happy this school year by following the checklist below:
- Take your child for a routine checkup a few weeks or months before school starts
- Make sure immunizations are up-to-date
- Obtain and complete all school, sports or medication forms
- Ensure your child is getting sufficient sleep by setting a night time routine and sticking to it
- Encourage proper hand washing. It’s recommended to wash hands for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Before School Starts
- Send sanitary wipes to school with your child to help combat common illness
- Have the school’s contact information on hand in case of absence or emergency
- Have a plan for sick days, including a caretaker to look after your child when he or she is home
- Be clear on expectations for academics/commitments and on the consequences if goals are not met
- Meet with your child’s teachers before school starts and continue to keep in contact throughout the year
- Stock up on healthy after-school snacks
- Obtain proper equipment and protective gear in good condition for all sports to avoid injuries
Bullying poses a threat to your child’s mental and physical well being. Those who are bullied are more likely to suffer from depression and poor self-esteem. In extreme cases, bullied children have tragically resorted to suicide or violence. Children who bully others are more likely to drop out of school, engage in drug and alcohol abuse, and break the law.
If you think your child is being bullied or is bullying others, it is vital that you take immediate steps to end the abuse. While girls are more likely to bully in emotional ways (e.g. exclusion and gossip), boys may chose to bully in physical and emotional ways (e.g. name calling and shoving). Both boys and girls are known to take part in cyber-bullying.
If your child is being bullied, help him or her get involved in different hobbies and groups for an opportunity to meet new friends. Also, teach “talk, walk, and squawk.”
- Talk back – Teach your child to say things like “Leave me alone” or “You don’t scare me” in a strong and calm voice.
- Walk away – Teach your child not to run, even if afraid.
- Tell an adult – Teach your child to tell a parent or teacher who can help.
If you suspect your child is bullying others he or she may benefit from counseling to address the behavior and better understand how his or her actions affect others.