Nurturing Strong Minds: Supporting Mental Health as Kids Head Back to School

Nurturing Strong Minds: Supporting Mental Health as Kids Head Back to School

by Anna Robertshaw, MSW, RSW

As the summer sun begins to set and the back-to-school shuffle takes center stage, it’s a good time to delve into a topic that’s both important and practical: how to ensure the mental well-being of kids (and parents) as they gear up for the school season. Below, we’ll dive into a few strategies to support the entire family as we navigate the journey back to school.

1. Open Communication

Starting conversations about the upcoming school year can set a positive tone for the transition and create a safe space where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, fears, and aspirations. Sharing your own experiences from school days and discussing challenges you faced can make them feel less alone and more ready to face whatever comes their way. Remember, open communication helps build resilience and a sense of belonging, fostering a strong foundation for mental health.

2. Setting Realistic Expectations

As the school year commences, it’s important to establish realistic expectations for academics and extracurricular activities. Encourage your child to aim for personal growth rather than perfection, emphasizing that setbacks and challenges are part of the learning process. Parents, too, should set achievable goals for themselves, and acknowledge that balancing work, family, and personal needs can be demanding.

3. Prioritizing Self-Care

Parents often focus on their children’s well-being to the extent that they neglect their own mental health. Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Carve out time for activities that recharge you, whether it’s reading, exercising, or spending quality moments with friends. By modelling self-care practices, parents show their children the importance of nurturing one’s mental health.

4. Establishing Routines

Predictable routines can provide a sense of stability amidst change. Set consistent sleep schedules, meal times, and study periods to help children and parents acclimate to the school routine. These routines signal the brain when to wind down and when to focus, promoting better sleep and enhanced productivity.

5. Emphasizing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help children and parents manage stress and stay present. Encourage activities like deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindful journaling. These techniques can enhance emotional regulation and promote a positive outlook.

6. Celebrating Achievements, Big and Small

Recognize and celebrate achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Positive reinforcement boosts self-esteem and motivates both children and parents to persevere through challenges. Whether it’s acing a test, making a new friend, or successfully managing a busy week, take time to acknowledge these victories.

5. Seeking Support

If stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek support from people in your personal and professional network. Consider connecting with other parents to share experiences and coping strategies, creating a community of support. At Monarch Psychology, we have therapists who can work with kids, youth, and parents in navigating challenges and building resilience.

As we gear up for the back-to-school journey, let’s prioritize mental health for kids and parents alike. By implementing these strategies, we can create an environment where everyone thrives, learns, and grows throughout the school year.

Click here for more information on children’s counselling at Monarch Psychology.

Who We Are

We are a team of compassionate and welcoming Psychologists and Social Workers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We create space to understand people and their stories by looking beyond symptoms and diagnoses. Learn more about our team here

Anna Robertshaw