ByAri Jacobson, LCPC, NCC
May 1, 2019
I’ve noticed as the school year has progressed my child is showing more and more signs of anxiety every day.
School can be one of the best and worst places for a child’s mental health. In theory, we are asking a child to participate in a full-time job every day before many of them have learned the skills necessary to multitask, engage in self-care and, most importantly, cope with stress. Think about ourselves for a moment. If you were at a job where you thought the boss treated you poorly, you were told you were not accomplishing tasks in a timely manner, and the tasks you completed were graded to a single percentage point-what would you do? My guess is you would be actively looking for a new job. Kids don’t usually have this option. And, when they do, they are placed at another “job” that may look and feel exactly like their previous employment. So, is there anything we can do to help our struggling children to feel more comfortable and succeed in an educational environment? Of course!
What I consider to be the most important factor is establishing a safe outlet at home. At the completion of your children’s day simply begin by setting time aside to allow the child to express the struggles, successes, excitements, and disappointments of their day. Though a teacher moving their seat may seem insignificant to us as adults, we have to remember that this may be incredibly stressful for a young student. Who are they sitting next to now? Can they see the board? Do they feel publicly shamed for being asked to move in the middle of class? Let’s ask our children to define their emotions to allow us to understand. “It sounds like you had a rough day, what would have made it better?” “I’m so proud of you for passing that math test today, what can we learn from this success?” Allowing your child to come home knowing they will be heard and understood may encourage them to not only share the excitements from their day, but also their struggles.
I also love the idea of getting to know your child’s friends and teachers. We cannot be with our children throughout the day, nor do we want them relying on our support to help them cope during school hours. Introduce yourself to your children’s teachers. Explain your excitements, concerns, and any important information you feel is necessary for your child’s successes. Get to know their friends. How many of your child’s “best friends” haven't you met because they have not been to your house? These are the students who are offering your child advice, support, or critiques for anything that may occur during the day. The more comfortable you are knowing your children have solid supports throughout the day, the more confident you will be knowing your child will succeed..
Finally, be patient. Not all kids are the same. Some kids will need more support than others, and many may need even more support than we as parents can provide. Be understanding and willing to listen. And remember, if a child needs extra assistance, Aspire can offer the support that may be necessary. Call us at 443-442-1568 to schedule an intake appointment and work with a professional to help build your child's self-esteem and give them the additional coping skills they need to succeed.