Expand their social circle
If your kids haven’t been interacting as much with others face-to-face you may want to play a few outings. This will help your child become more confident about the in-person socialization that will happen and will give them a chance to catch up on some of the social development they may have missed. Some examples of socializing outings may be, eating out at a restaurant, having a playdate with friends, or going to the park of course practicing physical distancing.
Reduce screen time
Always a painful discussion, but there had likely been a lot more screen time in your house through the pandemic. While social and the devices along have helped us all stay connected, it’s time to reassess just how much is really needed, remember there are negative effects when screen time extends pass 2hrs a day. Try capping screen time to no more than 90 minutes a day (for teens), and even reducing that time further in 15-minute increments until it reaches normal levels. When reducing screen time, swap in real life activities like outdoor play, baking, crafts and board games where you are able.
Let’s work on improving focus and staying organized
Play games that will help your child rebuild their executive functioning skills before they head back to school. Games that promote concentration, planning, the use of memory and even team building. Exercising these skills will make going back to school a little less challenging.
Reassurance. Let them know it’s safe.
Kids may wonder what made it ok to go back to school. Even if they don’t ask, walk your kids through the reasons why the situation is much better now. More people have been vaccinated, we are wearing masks and still maintaining physical distance, and good hygiene continues to be encouraged.
Do the normal back to school routine, just as you did in Septembers past.
Some good sleep tips from the experts that benefit everyone are:
- Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day (Yes, even on weekends)
- Keep your house cool. It’s easier to fall asleep when your house is kept at 65-70-degree temperatures.
- Get to bed earlier as a family.
- Practise your morning routine (making the bed, having breakfast, packing lunch)
- Track your route.
*For students attending school for the first time, or a new school, getting familiar with new steps and settings can be helpful. For this year, practise masking, hand sanitizing/ washing, drive by or walk to the school, even count the number of stop signs or traffic lights on the way.
Talk to your child about the friends they have that are in the same class. Getting kids to visualize their school day can offer some ease.
Go shopping! If your kid could care less about back to school shopping for clothes and supplies, then it can be a quick and painless exercise. For those kids who love the idea of a picking out a new backpack, shoes and supplies this is yet another way to get them engaged in going back to school and can bring excitement and positive energy versus stress and anxiety. Designing a “study hut” in your house can also be a fun family activity. (This is a fun “fort” like area for just your kids to do their homework and keep their school bag)
You know your kids better than anyone. If they are more curious, make sure you are prepared with answers to their questions. Have a plan, and follow it. Let your kids pick up on your positive energy about the upcoming school year versus nervous energy.
Take steps to reduce your own anxiety.
This is the most important step. Anxiety is contagious. While it’s natural to worry about your child, most experts agree that the risks of continued school closure are greater than the risks posed by COVID-19. Long periods of school closure are strongly associated with learning loss, which could adversely affect your child’s educational and professional performance many years into the future. The isolation children have experienced during the pandemic has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, and if it’s continued, it could cause many kids to miss essential developmental milestones. Keeping schools closed would put these kids at an increased risk of experiencing severe social and emotional problems.
By keeping the risks of COVID-19 in perspective, you’ll reduce your own anxiety levels and help your child feel more relaxed. When your child sees that you aren’t worried about him/ her going back to school, they’ll realize they don’t have anything to worry about, either.
We are here, lean on us.
Close to 30% of students report not knowing where to turn when they wanted to talk to someone about mental health.
Coming to schools across Niagara
Effective this September, the Wellness Wall Program will be visible in every school under the Niagara Catholic District School Board and the District School Board of Niagara. That’s 164 schools in all! We will tackle a number of Mental Health and Wellness topics throughout the year including: Back to School Prep & Stress Managements, Bullying, Body Positivity, Social Media Risks & Responsibilities, and How to Be that Person, because EveryONE needs SomeONE.
Pathstone is your sounding board.
If you think something may be off, or know that there is, come and see us. We now have 9 in-person walk-in clinics across the Region, open Monday to Friday. A session by video is also available.
To make an appointment for either, contact our Crisis & Support line at 1-800-263-4944, and that line operates 24/7.
Where our In-Person Walk-In clinics are located.
Fort Erie I Port Colborne I Fonthill I Welland I Niagara Falls I Thorold I St. Catharines I Beamsville I Grimsby
As always, services are offered to children and youth in Niagara from birth to age 18.
There is no referral, cost, or health card required to meet with a Pathstone counsellor.
Information on all of our walk-in clinics can be found here: https://pathstonementalhealth.ca/walk-in-clinic/
Did you know?
- 1 in 5 Kids in Niagara will struggle with a mental health issue
- 25% of parents have missed work to take care of a child with anxiety
- 33% of students in Ontario have missed school because of anxiety.
*More ideas and strategies on a host of mental health and wellness topics can be found at www.pathstonementalhealth.ca/pathstonetv/
- Pathstone Mental Health therapists and counsellors
- Advanced Psychology – https://www.psy-ed.com/wpblog/back-to-school-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR1HuRizWBaY9TLBh7MitTB53Yiq_Y71P2faCF97MKGskYil4isEMJg6_Es