ABC15 spoke with experts Wednesday morning to answer some of your most pressing questions about mental health and children as many families transition back to school.
The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.
Q: My child has been looking at computer screens for a year now but will head back to the classroom. What can I do to make sure they don't have screen withdrawals?
A: Permit some things to remain constant as things change. Older kids may have remained socially connected to help them not feel as lonely or isolated, and allowing some screen time can help that. Allow them to exercise, go outside, have unstructured play. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Q: What should I start doing now to get them ready to head back to the classroom? How can I help them adjust to the new learning setting?
A: Acknowledge their emotions, listen to concerns, find creative solutions to help them adjust. Try to start a schedule or routine that they can carry into when they return to school. Some children may have a 'transitional object' to make them feel better. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Q: My child is anxious about going back to school. What can I do to help those fears? I'm also anxious. How do I make sure those fears don't rub off on my child?
A: Apprehension is totally justified. It's new for everyone. Parents should stay informed and relay age-appropriate information. Practice flexibility and adaptation. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Q: This year has been really hard on my family. I feel relieved that my child is going back to school because I feel like I get a break and I feel guilty about that. Is that wrong?
A: It's not wrong to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Taking time for yourself as a parent and self-care are important for the entire family. It's important to manage that it's not dictating or overriding your interactions with your children. Seek support if you think you need more help. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Q: My teen has been really quiet lately and I don't know how they're feeling about going back to school. What can I do to get them to open up to me?
A: The main thing is quality over quantity. Take an interest in who they are, who they're becoming. Take a break from being the authority and take interest in their interests. What are your typical means of communication? Try to vary that. Be self-aware and authentic. Help them foster emotional intelligence. Keep an eye for signs of further issues if your child may need help or more resources. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Q: Are there any behavioral challenges to expect or prepare for considering that they haven't had a lot of exposure to other kids for a year?
A: Kids who struggled with moving to remote learning or isolation may or may not have trouble getting back into "normal" things. Help them foster the idea of identity, community, talents. -Dr. Emily Bashah, PSYD, Psychologist, Bashah Psychological Services
Abuse and Domestic Violence Resources:
- National Domestic Hotline [thehotline.org] | (800) 799-7233
- Crisis Text Line [crisistextline.org] | Text HOME to 741741
- Intimate Partner Violence [apa.org] (fact sheet)
- Psychological Wellness Guide for Survivors of Domestic Violence [psychiatry.emory.edu]
- How to master working from home — while under quarantine with kids [parents.com]
- Parent Training for Protecting Children During the Crisis [d2l.org]
Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: