The school year is almost here and kids are going to face a tremendous emotional and mental challenge – especially as the weather turns to the colder, wetter, and darker months that eventually makes its way to PNW cities like Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Tigard and the rest of the Portland Metro Area. Experiences of anxiety and depression typically increases as the school year approaches, and this year will be no different in those regards. Here are four things your child will need this year, and some thoughts on how you can prepare yourself to meet those needs:
#1 — Freedom to Succeed & Fail:
Your child, whether in elementary, middle school, or high school, will need to expand their horizons and take on new responsibility. They will need to feel empowered to try new things and grow. And success breeds a greater sense of empowerment – the ability to impact or create one’s own future. Personal empowerment helps people of all ages build resiliency and provides emotional tools to help against anxiety and depression. Kids will also need to be given enough freedom to fail. Failing can be a great learning opportunity, so do not be too quick to jump in and rescue your child on a missing assignment.
#2 — Flexible Structure:
Kids of all grade levels learn best when there is a structure around them. Having a pattern of when to wake up, getting ready for school, when to be “in class,” as well as when not to be “in class” – seeming as how it may all look the same this year. But flexibility will be equally important. Sometimes kids may need a “mental health” hour. Or two. Or day. You know your kid better than anyone. Provide the necessary structure, but be attuned to the mental and emotional needs of your child.
#3 — Safety:
Physical safety is a given. Your kid is going to need a safe place to study. But more than that, they need emotional safety. They are going to have to learn to do school in a completely different fashion than they are used to. You don’t have to allow yourself to be run over, but can you be a safe person for them to get let their sadness, frustration, and anxiety pour out onto? They will need you.
#4 — Presence:
One of the great lessons I learned from a parent was how she made herself available for her kids. She would sit on the couch and be reading a book every day when her kids got home from school. The kids would come home, run past her, grab some food (teenagers, am I right), do their homework, talk to friends…and every now and then they would walk into the room, sit on the couch next to their mom, she would put her book down, and they would talk. The mom didn’t make the kids interact with her, but she made herself available. When the kids were ready, they would know where to find her. And she was consistently ready to receive them. How might you be able to do the same for your child?
Prepare yourself mentally to do this for the whole school year. By preparing yourself for the long haul, you’ll be setting the expectation for yourself and won’t end up being bitterly disappointed or in despair if kids don’t make it back to physical attendance this year.
Wellspace Counseling is located in Tualatin, Oregon and serves the cities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Tigard and others in the Greater Portland Metro Area. To find more information about Wellspace Counseling visit at www.wellspacepdx.com.