Strategies for a Successful School Year
Change is hard–especially hard for little ones whose brains are still developing and learning how to manage big feelings!
The beginning of the school year can bring about a lot of emotions: anxiety, excitement, fear, or frustration.
Therapists with our Crisis Services for Children program compiled a list of helpful hints that may help ease into the transition of a new school year.
When in doubt, just remember that you are using these tools to prevent a CRISIS:
C heck in with your child.
Implement a system that works for your family to encourage your child to identify their feelings/emotions on a daily basis. The most useful visual tool is having your child identify on a thermometer their “temperature reading”. You can use this in the morning and after school to foster discussion about any changes that may have occurred in their mood throughout the day.
Stability, structure, and consistency take the guess work out of what is coming next. Work with your child to establish a schedule that will work for you and your family to include morning, afternoon, and nightly routines. Pro tip: Practice getting on this schedule before school starts!
I dentify supports.
Encourage your child to name 2-3 “safe people” at school in whom they feel they could confide if they feel unsafe due to bullying, mental health symptoms, or various other stressors. Ensure that at least one of these people is an adult, and let that person know that they have been an identified support for your child.
S leep Hygiene
Once again, consistency is key. Try to keep a consistent routine at night so there are no surprises. Daily hygiene routines are important- reward charts can be effective motivation to establish these routines. Additionally, include your child in developing an electronics agreement before bedtime- eliminate use of electronics at least 30 minutes to 1 hour prior, as these work to stimulate the brain rather and can prevent and disrupt restful sleep.
I ssues from the Past
If your child has known stressors, it is helpful to communicate these to teachers and/or school administrators to develop a plan to support your child.
Developing simple coping skills will empower your child to feel in control of their own emotions. Bedtime is a perfect time to practice these as part of your nightly routine!
Some common techniques include:
Take 5 Breathing- Have your child hold up their hand and trace their fingers while taking 5 slow, deep belly breaths
Bubble Breathing- Practice deep breathing exercises at home with bubbles or dandelions. See who can blow bubbles for the longest period of time with one breath!
Visualize your safe space- Close your eyes and picture your favorite place in the world. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it taste like? What do you feel? What do you smell?
The following links include helpful on-the-spot techniques that can be used to de-escalate and ground your child: