Keeping Your Cool While Back to School

Keeping Your Cool While Back to School

We’ve all read stories and seen statistics on the rising rates of anxiety, depression and suicide in our youth and going back to school can put added pressure on students of all ages.


But as kids across Metro Atlanta get back in the swing of things in the classroom, it can often be a bumpy road as they get readjusted. Here are five steps you can take to keep your kids mentally healthy and ready to tackle the challenges of school. By implementing these, you can help ensure your child’s emotional well-being and set them up for success both inside and outside the classroom.


Start preparing early. A week or two prior to the start of school establish and implement your back-to-school ritual/routine. This could include the bedtime routine, waking up earlier in the day, etc. to get used to getting back on a schedule. If the youth is starting a new school or new phase, like making the jump from elementary to middle school, talk about expectations and differences. If there is a new bus route, bus stop, etc. practice to get your child acclimated.


I once worked with a child who was going to catch a city bus to school, which was a little stressful for her. I worked with her and her parents to go through the entire process of waking up, getting ready, getting on the city bus and going to school, and then making her way home.  We worked through all sorts of details, like what happens if she misses the bus, to ease her anxiety.


Participate in the Open House. Allow the child to meet teachers ahead of the first day. It is also a great opportunity for parents to start developing a relationship with the teachers! Let them know how you like to be contacted, what things you like to be involved in and any special or specific needs of your child.


I have learned that this is especially important for middle and high school students, where the teachers tend to communicate more with the students, and parents are expected to use portals, etc. to receive information rather than having a relationship with the teachers. With older kids, there’s often the expectation of greater independence and less parental involvement.  If the parent wants to be more involved, and be more communicative with the teachers, the open house is a great time to establish this. Additionally, if there are things that would be helpful for the teacher to know about your child, share them here. For example, if a child likes to read once he’s finished his work, mention this to the teacher. You can’t assume that because it was okay with a past teacher that it will be the same for the new teacher, as they might prefer for him to get extra work or put his head down.


Establish homework time/after-school routine/bedtime…even with older kids. With smaller kids, mom and dad may have to facilitate this. With older kids, set the expectations. You can use their cell phone to set timers and alerts to ensure they are on task. One of my parents sets timers on Alexa to help her kids stay on track.


Check-in with your child daily. Ask them about the high points and low points of their day. Establish open communication with your child so that when difficult (or great things) come up, it will be usual for your child to share them with you. My own daughter is in eighth grade this year, and we have been doing this every day since she started preschool. She even asks me about my day now!


Reinforce good things and celebrate successes. Younger kids often get “check-sheets” from school, which outline everything the child did wrong that day, and the teachers expect the parents to discipline and correct. While we can address negative behaviors, we also need to ask the child and the teacher what the child is doing right or well. We also reinforce those areas, instead of just focusing on their challenges.


In conclusion, prioritizing the mental health of school-aged children is crucial for their overall well-being and academic success. By being aware of the signs of mental health issues, fostering a supportive and open environment, teaching coping skills, encouraging healthy habits, and seeking professional help when needed, we can work together to ensure that our children thrive mentally and emotionally throughout the school year.


Need help working through the back-to-school blues? CHRIS 180 can help. Email to make an appointment with one of our therapists.


Ashleigh Dennis-Silas, LPC, CPCS is the VP of Mental Health and Wellness at CHRIS 180.

Ashleigh Silas, LPC, CPCS
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.