Back-to-school time can mean a lot of changes for students and their younger siblings, parents, and teachers. Even when the change is positive and brings along new opportunities, it can often bring about stress. Below are some ideas to help get you through the transition whether you are a teacher, parent, or a person who loves them. Reducing stress and strengthening relationships keeps kids safe and connects families and their community.
Talk to Your Kids
Some children aren’t able to articulate how they are feeling when changes occur, which can lead to showing their stress through behaviors. If you notice your child seems anxious or withdrawn, or that their appetite or sleeping patterns have changed, it may help to ask them questions.
Tip: Take a few minutes on school days, before or after, to ask if your child is nervous or excited about school, if they feel safe, and if there is something that they learned or want to learn.
Talk to Your Community
Your community may be family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or a mix of all the above. However you identify community, they are often the best at helping us handle stress. Including teachers and parents in your community can help with the back-to-school transitions.
Tip: Parents and teachers are natural allies, as they both want children to learn and manage their behaviors in the classroom and at home. Building a parent-teacher relationship can be key in helping a child be successful. Communication between parents and teachers about skill building, appropriate developmental expectations, and helping children regulate emotions and behaviors will help adults in the child’s life learn from each other. Most importantly, understanding appropriate expectations and how to help a child cope with their emotions can be a stress reducer for everyone.
Offer to Help
With stress comes a need for respite. Worn out teachers, parents, and caregivers could use a hand, especially during times of transition. Even if you are one of those worn out caregivers or teachers, you can work with others to help everyone get a chance to relax.
Tip: Offer to watch the children of your friends or family when they could use a break. Parents can take turns caring for each other’s children while another parent takes time to relax.
Tip: As a teacher or a parent, self-care is important. Whether you have fifteen minutes or a night off, be sure to take the time to take care of yourself. Stretching, exercising, or mindful breathing can be the difference between a calm response to stress or a total meltdown. As a friend or family member—be sure to encourage self-care.
Ask for Help
Sometimes feelings of frustration or being overwhelmed can creep up on you. If you haven’t had to time to practice self-care, it’s OK to ask for help.
Tip: Utilize your community members when you need help. Oftentimes a friend or neighbor will say things in passing like, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” Take them up on that offer when you need a hand, a favor, or just 15 minutes of peace and quiet. As community members, we can take turns helping each other.
Strong community ties are key in helping to ensure stable support systems are in place for our students, parents, and teachers. Providing needed supports and reducing stress among adults can help to keep kids safe from abuse and neglect.