November 2019 Counselor's Tips
Brrr…A chill is in the air and it truly feels like fall, and maybe even a taste of winter!
I hope that you have been able to have productive and helpful conversations with your student’s teacher(s) and that a strong and collaborative relationship is forming. The transition into the winter season can often be characterized by an increase in stress for both parents and students. As the days shorten we can feel pressed to squeeze all of our activities and needs into those few daylight hours; many families begin to prepare for holidays and the stresses those activities may entail; students may be navigating changes in friendships, academic demands, or home structures; families deal with more illnesses while being confined indoors due to the changing weather, even world events and news can impact a student or whole family’s stress level. Kids who are stressed may not be able to tell you, here are some signs and tips for supporting your student through stress:
How Can I Tell?
Emotional/Behavioral Signs - Kids who are stressed may show short-term changes in behavior or habits like acting out, mood swings, sleeping more or less, becoming clingy, thumb sucking, lying, nightmares or new fears, agitation or aggression, avoidance of activities, defiance, anger, whining and crying, or regression to younger behavior patterns.
Physical Signs - Kids who are stressed may show physical symptoms like stomach or headaches, changes in appetite, bedwetting, or other physical symptoms with no physical illness.
How Can I Help?
- Attention – Carve out time each day to spend relaxed and calm time with your student when your attention is undivided. This is quality time, not necessarily quantity time. The most important thing is that you both have your attention 100% on each other. A great way to do this through family dinner time that is device free or one-on-one time in the car ride or on a walk. Keeping your relationship with your student strong is one of the most important ways you can support their resilience and emotional health.
- Down-Time – Make sure that your student has unstructured time on a regular basis to do what makes them feel good. Physical activity, reading, resting, or having a snack are all healthy ways to take a break and we all need a break!
- Routines – Keeping consistent eating and sleeping/wake routine helps ensure that kids are eating and sleeping enough to keep their bodies healthy. A healthy body can help reduce other stresses. Routines help kids feel safe and secure.
- Talk About It – Sometimes kids don’t want to talk about their stress or may not have the words to express their stress. You can encourage healthy coping strategies by talking about your stress in a healthy and age appropriate way. For example: “I feel stressed and uncomfortable when I am late for work. I take deep breaths to calm down and feel better so that I can drive safely, even though I am late.” Having you as a healthy role model is key to helping kids manage their own stress.
- Be Open to Help – Take care of yourself and be open to accepting help. You are your student’s stress role model. If they see you reaching out for help from friends, family, or professional support in stressful situations they will be more likely to reach out for help too. If you are concerned that your student is unable to move past stress or they are showing continued signs of withdrawal, uncontrolled anger, or other concerning symptoms you can reach out to get them support from appropriate sources.
With the help and support of adults who model healthy coping skills our kids can build healthy habits too. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or comments that you may have. Also, if you were unable to attend the PTA membership meeting on Sept 10th, you can review the information that was presented here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GoLgAM5q3pkM-RR_gBcLL4QeqVGvNnJr
Hulstrom School Counselor