In a time where taking care of mental health is emphasized, it is important to find a safe space for a child to express themselves. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can affect how we think, feel, and act. The classroom setting can be affected by children facing various challenges, limiting their ability to reach their full potential. Here are several ways in which adults/guardians can aid their child’s mental well-being upon their return to school.
- Active Listening: Practicing active listening involves prioritizing listening over problem-solving. By actively listening and summarizing what you heard, you are relaying the message to your child that you are there for them and they are valued. As a parent, our initial instinct may be to alleviate any discomfort or pain our child is experiencing, but sometimes this can be interpreted as dismissive. Therefore, it’s important to remember that the goal is to listen and comprehend, rather than immediately respond.
- Open-Ended Questions: When you ask your child, “How was your day?” it often fails to initiate a meaningful conversation, resulting in a high likelihood of receiving a brief, one-word response. Asking specific open-ended questions allows your child to offer information without it feeling forced and the conversation can flow more naturally. A common approach is the “What’s your rose, thorn, and bud?” game. The “rose” is one positive aspect of the day, the “thorn” is one negative aspect, and the “bud” is something to look forward to. These are specific questions that provide an opportunity to have that open dialogue.
- Seek Professional Help: If you notice any drastic changes in your child’s mood, grades, appetite, sleeping patterns, etc. You can initiate this through the pediatrician or school counselor. Psychology Today is another great resource for searching for a mental health provider tailored to specific needs.
Hillary Aponte-Chimelis, LPC, PMH-C, R-PLC
H. Aponte-Chimelis Counseling
4641 Pottsville Pike, suite 101B
Reading, PA 19605