The school year is coming to a close and your kids can’t wait for summer. They’re looking forward to staying up late, sleeping in, playing outside and going to the pool. Meanwhile you are thinking ahead, dreading the transition from the structure-less summer to the structure-filled school year and the inevitable challenges for your child once the school year starts. Children often have difficulty adjusting to transitions and some struggle more than others. Luckily, you can reduce the stress of adjusting to a new school year by adding some light structure to your child’s summer schedule.
As a teacher and a parent of four children, one of whom has bipolar disorder, some days I find myself staring at my computer screen, my mind frozen. What was I doing? Which of these 17 extremely urgent open internet browser tabs should I tackle first? Do I even dare check my email in-box? How long before I have to get dinner on the table? In the midst of my frozen panicked state, my Outlook calendar pings me to remind me it’s “Mindful Monday,” and I’m going to be late for the mindfulness workshop (again).
A suicide epidemic currently exists among teens. In fact, you’ve probably heard many startling statistics, such as that suicide is the second-leading cause of death between ages 10 and 34, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. And maybe you’ve heard that 8.6% of high school students attempted suicide in the past 12 months, according to The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
When children are struggling with mental health issues, their performance at school is often one of the first indicators. Your child’s teachers are in the unique position to observe their academic performance, day-to-day mood, interactions with peers and authority figures, and overall functioning in an environment full of social rules and expectations. Teachers have their eyes on many factors that indicate your child’s well-being; and they also have the ability to see changes over the course of the school year. Depending on the size of the school and community, teachers may also have knowledge of your child’s activities and social life outside of the classroom.
Is your child normally engaged and motivated but suddenly having trouble paying attention? Are they more withdrawn than usual? It might be tempting to write this off as just laziness or a passing “phase.” Yet this might be a sign of a larger problem. In fact, social withdrawal and isolation is often one of the first signs of a possible eating disorder.
It’s your child’s bedtime and you’re dreading it. Instead of the calm process you wish it was, it’s filled with tears, pleading, and excuses after excuses. Peacefully reading bedtimes stories is a thing of the past while the stubborn phrase “I’m not tired!” is here to stay. Why is your child avoiding going to bed? Is this normal?