Helping kids cope with back-to-school stress

Posted at 2:57 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 16:57:27-04

More than ever, there is a need to focus on our mental well-being. We are all looking at another surge of COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health concerns are high as we have been asked to protect ourselves from the virus, stay in our homes, and work to avoid contact with others. This, in turn, can challenge our mental well-being.

Parents also serve a major role in the mental well-being of their children. As schools are gathering soon again, and questions continue about being safe during the COVID-10 pandemic, stressors are elevated for our youth.

Dr. Annie Deming, a psychologist and clinical manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Center for Counseling, talked about ways parents can help navigate and support their children’s mental health.

“There is a chance to reach out and help our children realize their past accomplishments at handling stress while also being there as a compassionate listener to their stresses,” said Dr. Deming.

Understand These are Uncertain Times
Everyone needs to get to a point where they are able to be flexible – understand that there will be changes to routines. Don’t be stressed too much when they do. The added stress can leave the whole family in turmoil. Especially if parents can model for their children how to approach change with curiosity and a positive, hard-working attitude, that will be very beneficial for the kids.

The good side is that through the strife’s of the past year, we have also been given the opportunity to practice and develop our resilience. Some people think of resilience as a trait one is born with (hardiness) or an outcome (presence of post-traumatic stress or growth).

Resilience is neither lucky or passive and can be strengthened with practice. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity. When we get far enough past an adversity to look back with perspective, we can consider its effects on our lives and identities, reflect on the skills we developed, the actions we took, the lessons we learned, and the reasons we kept going.

Hang on to The Positives of Quarantine
Did you relish the times of board games or walks? Then keep them as part of your family routine. Hold tight to the connections and keep them meaningful. This is will help cope with the stressors.

Social interaction is so important. Keep the ways we found to socialize in any way – virtually or in person.

Parents Can Be Advocates
If the plan is not working, then parents should be empowered to reach out to schools and engage in constructive conversations. These conversations should not be complaints, but a discussion about finding a commonplace to help the student and family.

Talk to your family and friends about stressors and check in on them as well. Please reach out to your family doctor, therapist if you need to mental health resources. You can also reach out to the free Intermountain Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Navigation Line (833-442-2211) seven days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm. Connect Care for Behavioral Health also allows getting virtual visits with providers.

If you or someone you know needs immediate support, contact the Utah Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, 24/7).