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Supporting our kids mental health

25 Oct 2021

 

With schools officially reopen and students back behind their classroom desks it’s important to be mindful of the mental health of our children.

While kids may be excited to see their friends after months of stay at home restrictions, returning to school might also be quite an emotional experience.

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Director of Mental Health, Matt Russell explains it’s important to acknowledge that it’s normal to feel more anxious or worried than they normally would.

“They might feel frightened or tearful and that’s ok. It’s been a strange time for them and a long time since they have had face-to-face learning with their teacher and peers. Children like routine and it will take some time to get back in to the swing of things,” says Matt.

While things are changing around them, establishing some routines, structure and predictability in their daily life can help.

“Each morning encourage your child to pack their own bags, eat breakfast and get dressed for school. Children feel safe when they know what is going to happen and when the same type of things happen. Activities that they can repeat can help to alleviate some stress they may feel,” Matt reiterates.

Physical health is also another important factor that supports your child’s overall wellbeing.

“Remember to support their healthy minds the same way you would support a healthy body. Eat well, exercise - which can be something as simple as a family walk around the block - and maintain connections with family and friends,” says Matt.

Most important however is to let your child know you are there for them.

“Have open and honest conversations regularly. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and make sure they know they can talk to you. Say to them ‘you can tell me anything you are worried about and I will work through it with you’ to help reassure that everything is going to be ok.”

Matt reminds parents that returning to school doesn’t need to be a daunting experience, and much like riding a bicycle you haven’t ridden in a while, kids will slowly begin to return to their old routines.

For more information on supporting children as they return to school you can go to the Department of Education’s website ‘Helpful tips for parents and carers to support children’.