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Tid★Bits Magazine Fall 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In this issue:

  • How to Help Children Transition to a New School Year
  • Pack Nutrition Punch in School Lunch
  • School-Themed Activity Ideas
  • Special Focus: Safe Use of Art Products
  • New Endocrinology Center Open
  • Teens/Tweens: Body Image & Self-Esteem

How to Help Children Transition to a New School Year

The beginning of a new school year is a time of great change and new experiences in a child?s life. Emotional support from parents and caregivers can be extremely important during this time. In the information below, Dr. Aradhana Bela Sood, Director of Virginia Treatment Center, Division of Child Psychiatry, Children?s Hospital of Richmond, provides advice, suggestions and tips for supporting a child?s successful transition to a new school year.

Why is it important to help children transition to a new school year?

Any changes in life situations can be termed periods of transition. It is difficult for most adults, let alone children, to switch from one life situation to another without emotional and physical stress. For some situations there can be no planning to minimize or avoid stress. However, there are some periods such as the start of new school year which can be planned for so that we can reduce the emotional burden. Minimizing stress associated with a new school year can allow children and teens to focus on issues that need their psychological/emotional energy - such as academic work and connecting with new and old classmates - and be excited about the future.

How can parents and caregivers help reduce a child?s overall anxiety related to a new school year?

On a practical level, if the child is anxious or nervous, find out what his or her concerns are. Phrases such as: "So school is going to start?Are you excited about it?...Is there something that you are really looking forward to?... Is there something that really bothers you about school?" can encourage children to share how they are feeling. As much as possible, pin down concrete concerns such as: "I do not know where my new school is," "How will I know where my locker is?" or "I do not know anyone on my school bus,? rather than dwelling on abstract issues such as: "I do not like school." Often, specific action can be taken to address concrete concerns, while abstract issues are more difficult to address and can continue to create more anxiety.

Keep in mind that anxiety (feelings of worry and nervousness) is not always bad. Sometimes these feelings prompt a person into action and that helps in preparation and accomplishing tasks. However, when anxiety is overwhelming, the person can become so preoccupied by the worry that it causes inaction and failure. Being aware of a child?s psychological style is important in helping a child deal with these feelings. Does the child thrive on structure and direction, or is he or she fairly independent? Matching the advice and actions to the needs of the child can reduce anxiety and enhance self-confidence.

What are tips for supporting a child who is starting a new school year?

1. Make time to talk with your child about school. Talking about the first day and first weeks of school allows the child to express whether he or she is excited or upset about the new school year and provides opportunities to address those issues proactively.

Read more about this and other back to school topics

TidBits Fall 2011

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