The past few years have brought many changes and challenges to our daily routines from home and work life to school and social life — all of which have impacted kids’ and teens’ mental health.
Even in uncertain times, a new school year brings a sense of possibility and hope. Here’s how to set your children up for a healthy, successful school year as they return to their classrooms this fall with some CREATION Life-inspired tips.
1. Create a Reliable Routine
Create a positive home environment through a healthy routine. Knowing what to expect can ease kids’ minds. Add structure by keeping bedtime, mealtimes and other daily patterns consistent.
Sit down to a family dinner as much as you can. Getting to eat and talk together boosts mental health and well-being. Plus, shared meals tend to include more nutritious foods and you tend to slow down while eating.
Focusing on proper nutrition every day and making sure your kids are eating a well-balanced diet is another sure way toward good health and better grades. Including healthy omega-3 fats found in oily fish like salmon, avocados and flax seeds promotes healthy brain function.
2. Encourage Active Bodies, Minds and Spirits
We’re meant to move, and not just our bodies, but our minds and spirits, too. Include time for fresh air and physical activity that includes play — whether that means playing a sport, going on a leisurely walk or taking a refreshing swim.
Add in mental activity that isn’t just about homework, like playing games together as a family such as Wordle, Uno or Scrabble.
Spiritual activities like family prayer time, going to church together, singing meaningful songs or learning to meditate can build trusting relationships and confidence, improve outlook and promote good emotional health.
3. Connect with Teachers and Counselors
Think of your kids’ teachers and school counselors as partners. Talk with them about your children’s academic and emotional needs.
Be sure to mention major life shifts, such as a move, a divorce or a death in your family. They can offer appropriate support or accommodations, such as reduced workloads and counseling sessions.
Maintaining these important interpersonal relationships will be sure to have a positive impact on your kids’ school experience and flow into their home life as well.
4. Get the Best Rest
Another reason for a regular bedtime? Not getting enough sleep contributes to behavior and health challenges, including trouble concentrating, anxiety and depression.
To encourage good sleep, turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime. Keep too many toys from cluttering young kids’ bedrooms and monitor how many activities, like sports practices and lessons, are taking up older kids’ evenings. A healthy amount of unscheduled downtime is important to help your kids reset.
If possible, dedicate at least one day a week as a true day of rest as a family with no homework, no extra obligations and no added pressure. It can be a day just to enjoy being present and doing things you like.
Making time for rest — for your body, mind and spirit — is one of the best remedies for stress and will support your children’s overall health in a powerful way.
5. Get Help if You Need it
Making and encouraging positive choices can lead to better health and a great school year for your kids. But if they’re struggling to cope, there is always help available.
Signs your child or teen is struggling include prolonged sadness, intense fears or worries, big personality shifts and substance use. Reach out to their pediatrician or a mental health professional if you spot these changes or any other concerning behavior.
If you think your child is in danger of hurting themselves or others, call a crisis line. The National Suicide Prevention Line has a new 3-digit number you can call or text quickly simply by dialing or texting 988. They can still be reached at their traditional number: Call800-273-TALK Call800-273-8255).
If you believe someone is in imminent danger, call 911 for immediate help.
Help and Hope for Your Whole Family
You always have someone on your side at AdventHealth. Whether you or someone in your family needs treatment for anxiety, depression, substance use or any other behavioral health issue, our expert team is here to help. All of our advanced support, educational and assessment programs are also available to the families and friends of those dealing with behavioral health challenges.
We wish your whole family a happy, healthy school year ahead. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help along the way.
Learn more about how we can support your whole-person health here.