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 Are they more withdrawn than usual?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?
Many parents are familiar with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), which are an important part of the school day for children with disabilities. IEPs lay out the specific program of support, services and special education needed to help them succeed. You might not be as familiar with 504 Plans, a similar kind of educational plan but with one key difference. A 504 Plan can be used to help children with mental health challenges do better in school, without removing them from the regular classroom.
That November morning started like any other. I was making pancakes in the kitchen while my 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son set the table. Their older brother Eric, 13, soon joined us, prompted by the delicious smell of bacon wafting through the air. As I doled out pancakes, I noticed a stack of books on the counter.
The end of the year is approaching, which means we are already halfway through the school year. Holiday parties, special religious celebrations and services, snow days, and winter break are all here. While the holidays are meant to bring us joy, rest, and spiritual rejuvenation, all of these changes also can be disruptive or stressful for families with children. This may be especially true for families with children who have special needs due to a mental health diagnosis.