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Start of school brings mixed emotions, challenges

Family
School bus

The transition from summer break back into a regular school schedule can be a tough adjustment for some children. Catching the school bus in the morning, a full day of classes, new peers, tackling new or more difficult academic topics — it can all be a bit overwhelming.
Heather Partridge, a behavioral health counselor at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road in Myrtle Beach, says parents should keep the lines of communication open with their children during this time of adjustment. And one way to do that is by asking open-ended questions.
“Instead of asking them if they had a good day, ask them a more open-ended question such as, ‘What did you do today?’” Partridge says. “Their tone of voice, demeanor and the details they share will help you identify how well they are adjusting.”

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Observing how your child reacts to these questions will give you the most insight into how he or she is really feeling.
“If they seem excited about school, a new friend they made or an activity they tried, those are all good signs they are adjusting well,” Partridge says. “On the other hand, if their responses are short, they appear sad, isolate themselves or they are complaining about stomach aches every morning — which can be a sign of anxiety — they might be struggling.”

Give it time

Some students who exhibit these behaviors may just need time to get used to their new surroundings, but if you’re concerned that it may be more than that, Partridge suggests reaching out to your student’s teachers to get their feedback.
“Keep in mind that the first few weeks back to school can be an adjustment period for everyone,” Partridge says. “Give your child some time to adjust. If you continue to have concerns with their behavior or academic performance, it might be a good time to request a parent-teacher conference or consult with a counselor to get them some extra help.”

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Whether at the beginning of a school year or at any point along the way, make sure you are paying close attention to your child’s mental health, she says.
“If you have any concerns about your child’s mental health, don’t ignore them,” she says. “Keep open lines of communication with your child and, if necessary, talk to your child’s care provider about what’s occurring so your child can get appropriate treatment.”

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