@KidsHelpPhone and Back to School

This post is a Guest Post shared by Kids Help Phone. I encourage all parents to post the Kids Help Phone number (1-800-668-6868) on their fridge for their children to see! As much as we hope that our children will share everything with us, in some cases, they do not feel comfortable and Kids Help Phone could be the only place they feel that they can turn to.

This fall, over 6 million young people will be heading back to public schools, colleges and universities and many of them will need help adjusting to the back to school season.

Whether your child is heading back to a familiar environment, or your teen is starting their first year of high school or transitioning into college or university, many young people at all academic levels will need support to help manage the pressures and challenges brought on by a new year.

“Young people often experience stress and anxiety because of expectations to perform, succeed, and conform, in and outside of the classroom,” says Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, a professional counsellor at Kids Help Phone. “ We might not always realize how much pressure young people are under to make the right career choices, have the right clothes, or to fit in with certain crowds at school.”

Cheryl-Lynn says kids who are having strong feelings about their new school year may:

  • have trouble sleeping
  • complain that they don’t want to go back-to-school shopping
  • may not want to talk about school

So what can parents do to help if their kids are experiencing anxiety about being back at school? Cheryl-Lynn offers the following expert tips:

  • Take time to listen. Start the conversation with an open statement, like, “tell me what you’re thinking.”
  • Use your kid’s past experiences. Maybe they changed teachers last year. Ask your kid how they handled this change and used their competencies and skills to work out a Plan B. The examples you draw from don’t have to relate to something that happened to them at school.
  • Open up their hopes or fears to other possibilities. Ask them, “what if it doesn’t happen that way?” Help them understand that things could turn out differently.
  • Break down generalizations and big numbers.
  • Find a time when you and your kid are in a good mood before you talk. Don’t start on a negative. Say, “I’ve noticed…” or start with something anybody would hear or see: “I’m not judging you,” or, “help me understand.
  • You don’t have to lecture kids on what’s bad for them, just let them know how to say no. And that you are there to listen and support, judgement-free. You might even want to come up with some different scenarios and role-play together. Make it fun!
  • Respect your kid’s timing. Be aware of their patterns and routines. If they don’t want to talk about it right then, that’s okay, as long as you make sure you do commit to having that discussion. You could also write letters, or email. One idea is to use short messages and allow kids to fill in the blanks. As long as there is an exchange it doesn’t matter how you do it, even if it happens when you’re out for a walk or
    going for a drive. Side-by-side talks can be less intimidating for some kids.
  • Visit www.kidshelpphone.ca together to find more information about going back to school, as well as other resources on topics that matter most to young people. Let your kid know that they can always call and talk to a counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.

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