5 ways to help your child deal with
“Stress isn’t the sa
same for all children,
— Dr. Cheryl S. Al-Mateen,Mat
Medical Director of
the Virginia Treatme
Treatment Center for Children
“In some cases this stress c
can even be traumatic. If left unnoticed,
it can lead to real mental health concerns, including
depression, anxiety, self-harm and even substance abuse.”
all health. Sometimes, however, topics around mental health
can feel overwhelming or confusing for parents. Many may
tional school stress and potential trauma. Fortunately,
there are many resources available
every day to talk about their friends,
teachers and classes. Open yourself
to hearing the good and bad, and ask
too nervous to talk or being teased for
talking too much. These conversations
help you identify problems as they arise,
teach your child problem-solving skills and reinforce
how deeply you care about their wellbeing.
• Strengthen your lines of communication. Your child
may be more open about school if you have frequent conversations
about other things as well. Talk to them about the
little stuff, and they’ll be more apt to tell you about the big
stuff. Listen without judging, and be ready to engage them
in an activity if that makes them more comfortable. Braiding
your child’s hair, shooting a few baskets in the driveway or
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recommendations to support parents in
understanding school issues, helping
children cope and tackling problems.
• Check in about school and activities.
Give your child your undi-
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working a puzzle can lead to great conversations.
• Work with your school. If your child is showing signs
of stress that concern you, don’t be afraid to reach out to their
teachers or principal. Your child’s teacher may be able to
shed light on what’s causing the stress and, if nothing else,
can help watch out for your child during the school day.
• Establish a routine at home. Children thrive in stable,
consistent environments. Creating a predictable schedule is
helpful, if you can, but sometimes that’s just not possible.
Make a big family calendar and keep it where everyone can
access it. This empowers children to know what’s coming
up and helps provide the solid foundation they crave
at home. They’ll be better prepared to deal with
changes and unexpected situations they may
face at school.
• Seek help when you need it. How
do you know if your child needs help
beyond what you or the school can provide?
Look for warning signs. For example,
young children may complain
about stomachaches and headaches
that have no physical explanation.
When depressed, a child may say that
they’re angry, rather than sad, so listen
for both - especially when their eating
or sleeping patterns also change dramatically,
they seem to have low energy or they
aren’t taking pleasure in things they enjoyed
before. These may be signs of a larger problem
that needs to be addressed immediately with help
from mental health professionals.
The school years are exciting, important times for your
children, but they can be tough. Check in with your child daily
and don’t downplay the stress they may feel. Recognizing
potential issues quickly can help prevent larger problems
your child, visit chrichmond.org/vtcc. (BPT)
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