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Behavioral Health Tips for a Healthier, Happier Back-to-School Experience

From our colleagues in Behavioral Health:

It’s that time of year! As we transition our kids back to school, the excitement, nerves, and curiosity can cause a rollercoaster of emotions for our children, and even for parents. Helping our kids build emotional strength and stability is crucial in setting them up for a successful school year ahead. To ease the transition, here are a few helpful tips from our Pediatric Behavioral Health experts to make sure it’s as smooth and healthy as possible:

Get Bedtime Back on Track

In the days leading up to school starting, back up bedtime by 15 minutes each night. Consistently getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep (or more) can help improve mood, memory, concentration, productivity, immune function, cognition, the ability to learn, and overall wellness. The more well-rested your children are, the more likely they are to succeed in the classroom.

Discuss and Encourage Inclusivity

Talk to your child about respect and kindness on a regular basis and help them understand that these qualities are essential parts of a healthy friendship with kids at school. Creating a social life early on sets up emotional wellbeing for the year. By having these meaningful conversations with your children now, you’ll begin to create a road map for more candid, open conversations with them in the future. To build their confidence, practice socializing with other families to jumpstart friendships, encourage healthy play, and make connections.

Nip Separation Anxiety in the Bud

If your child is feeling nervous about being away from you for the first time, try a few dry runs before the start of the school year. Practice a short good-bye routine at the drop-off point or bus stop so that they know what to anticipate.

Build Consistency and Excitement

Having something to look forward to is important! Remind your child about upcoming special dates to spark a joyful anticipation that can make a huge difference on a day (or week) that feels difficult. Thinking about yearly events can foster a feeling of consistency and stability, which is much-needed at the start of a school year.

Talk, Listen, and Model Healthy Self-Expression

To ease anxiety at the start of school, be intentional about creating safe spaces for your child to work through their thoughts and feelings with you. Carve out some time to check in– car rides are great for this! Ask questions, and help them express and process their emotions about their day. Sharing about your day and your feelings inspires more connection and conversation.

If you or a family member needs behavioral and/or mental health treatment, but aren’t sure where to start, read more here or call 888-764-4161. We’re here to support!