7 Ways to Help Families Manage Back-to-School Stress

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Stressed, frazzled, and tired – American families face increasing mental health, behavioral, financial, and academic stressors as children return to school.

What Does Back-to-School Stress Look Like for Families?

As a new school year gets underway, stressors for families intensify. Parental back-to-school pressures involve kids’ clothing, school supplies, lunches, after-school programs, drop-offs and pick-ups, homework, and sports and extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, students experience their own set of stressors that include grades and test scores, social status, family, world and traumatic events, and even eco-anxiety due to climate change. However, a key stress for kids and parents alike during the school year is bullying and cyberbullying, and the related consequences.

Though studies point to many benefits provided by social networking, there are downsides to consider – particularly the onset of anxiety and depression, becoming a victim to bullying that can lead to compromised mental health, and self-harm.

“One of the more troubling aspects with digital afflictions is that the effects are more insidious than overt, making them much more difficult to recognize,” says Jeff Cain of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. One of these effects is the psychological toll. “Research studies reveal a plethora of factors related to smartphones and social media that have negative consequences for sleep, anxiety, and depression.”

What Can You Do to Counter Your Child’s Back-to-School Stress?

1. Talk positively to your student about it.

Empathize with your child about their feelings and highlight the importance of facing their fears. “No matter what age, a good support network can make a big difference in how secure someone feels in their ability to cope with stress and anxiety,” says Jessica Beal, Youth Crisis Center Family Link Therapist. “Children in particular are a lot more confident in themselves, and their decision making, when they know they have people in their corner to root them on.”

2. Prepare them to succeed.

Get organized ahead of time by prepping their clothes, backpacks and supplies, lunches, transportation, and homework schedules. Don’t overschedule your child or yourself.

3. Do a dry run – or two.

Get them on a scholastic sleep schedule at least a week prior. Visit the school before their first day and walk around to help them acclimate to the routine, setting, or to reacquaint themselves.

4. Host a “School Year’s Eve” Party.

Do something fun the day before school starts that gives your child something to look forward to. It can become an enjoyable tradition for your family.

5. Practice a relaxation skill together.

Every child needs stress-relieving techniques so they can let their emotions and discomfort out healthfully, which may include breathing exercises, physical exercise, or learning to meditate via free instructional apps or videos.

6. Phone a friend.

If you or your child are not adjusting to the increased demands of the season, there are professional resources available to assist you. Contact the school counseling office if you don’t know where to start. You can also speak to a therapist.

7. Use technology to your advantage.

Rallying against your child’s electronic devices and social media can seem futile, as these technologies are considered essential in today’s instructional and home environments. However as parents, one of the most formidable tools to ensure your child’s mental and emotional well-being is using proven parenting solutions for the digital age offered by Securly.

  • The SecurlyHome App will connect you to their school devices. Tune in to your child’s school-owned devices even when they’re at home, and make sure they’re studying when it’s time for homework. Whether you’re at work or at a coffee shop, the easy-to-use SecurlyHome app lets you view your child’s recent search terms, see which sites have been visited, and get alerts if signs of bullying or self-harm are found. The app is free, but the insight it provides is priceless.
  • Hub by Securly works in concert with the SecurlyHome App to give you the power to create a personalized Wi-Fi network specific to your child’s age and interests. You can allow or block sites, view online activity, and be aware of risky behavior. The Hub provides extensive protection from digital threats, giving you peace of mind by keeping your kids safe. Simply plug it into your home router, and within minutes, you can manage your entire family’s digital devices in one place.

Consistent device and social media use may be considered a way of life for kids. But you do not have to accept the negative consequences as “progress.” Securly was founded with a single intention: to keep kids safe online.

With Securly, you get solutions that keep kids safe & engaged online, at school, and at home using tools that help adults create a kid-friendlier internet, and AI that recognizes signs of bullying and risks of self-harm. This is parenting elevated for the digital age.

References:

  1. Cain, Jeff. “It’s Time to Confront Student Mental Health Issues Associated with Smartphones and Social Media.” American journal of pharmaceutical education vol. 82,7 (2018): 6862. doi:10.5688/ajpe6862

About the Author:

Jon Patrick Hatcher holds an M.A. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and has spent years studying, utilizing, and sharing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) techniques, which he discreetly conveys in layman style.

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