Universal Mentors Association

4 parenting priorities to prevent mental health ‘summer slide’ | KQED


Consistent sleep patterns can improve sleep health, which is closely linked to children’s mental health and wellbeing. “If you don’t have morning routines or evening routines as a family, the summer is a good time to experiment,” Stevenson said. Creating a daily schedule that includes dedicated time for physical activity, reading, hobbies and socializing can provide a sense of stability and purpose.

“Just because school’s out doesn’t mean learning stops. In fact, it’s the best time to learn because you have the sole choice over what you get to be curious, pursue or inquire about,” she added. Outside of the hustle and bustle of the school year, parents can encourage kids to think about how they’re contributing to their community, which can look like setting the table each night, visiting older relatives or volunteering locally. 

Open communication can help parents recognize warning signs

It can be difficult to identify signs that a kid is struggling with mental health, especially if they are older. Although resources with lists of warning signs exist, they can often read like teenagers being teenagers, Stevenson said. “They’re emotional. They’re volatile. They’re withdrawn. They like to sleep all day.” Instead of scrutinizing every potential symptom, Stevenson suggested parents keep an eye on significant changes in behavior, mood, eating and sleep habits. “Trust that you know your kid,” she said. “You know what their baseline is.” Additionally, parents can establish a daily check-in with their child, such as a text asking how they’re doing or a designated time in the evening to share highs and lows from the day.

If parents notice warning signs of poor mental health, open and honest communication is vital. Engaging in supportive conversations with their child, expressing concern and actively listening without judgment can create a safe space for them to share their feelings. “Listen and stay in that moment and just let them express themselves. Show them that you can hold very difficult feelings,” said Stevenson. If parents feel out of their depth, they can seek professional help from a pediatrician, therapist or counselor. “Summer can present a lot of great opportunities for intensive mental health support or starting with a therapist,” she added.

Knowledge is power when it comes to school-year fear

At the beginning of the summer, going back to school may be the farthest thing from kids’ minds. But as the school start date gets closer, parents might start to see anxiety levels rise, said Stevenson. “Anytime you’re going to have a transition or there’s an unknown, there’s going to be an increase in worry. And if you’re already predisposed or struggling with anxiety, it’s going to exacerbate the challenges that you’re facing,” she said.

Parents can work with kids to find out as much information about the next school year as possible in order to dispel any fear of the future. This is especially helpful when kids are starting at a new school either because of a grade change or a recent move. Parents may encourage students to visit school and see where their classes will be or talk to their friends to see if they will be in the same classes. “As much information as they can have about what their day is going to look like and who they’re going to be with is really helpful,” said Stevenson. Additionally, parents can identify any orientation programs that the school may provide.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *