Published On: Sat, Aug 14th, 2021

Palm Beach County on supporting your child’s mental health

The Palm Beach County School District’s Department of Behavior and Mental Health released a video for parents, explaining the importance of mental health when setting your child up for success. 

There are three core messages that the department wants parents and students to understand: that mental health can be understood as the ability to live fully, engage with others, and respond to challenges; schools have trained professionals available to support students’ mental health; it’s okay to not be okay and ask for help. 

“Feelings are contagious. If you are sad, mad, happy, or scared, your child will pick up on those feelings. They look to you for guidance at how to manage their feelings. Remember, you are your child’s first teacher,” the department said.

There are many ways to understand and manage your feelings when stressed out or overwhelmed. The department recommends pausing to focus on breathing by taking slow breaths in and out for 30 seconds. Parents are also encouraged to find a quiet time to relax, listen to music that makes them feel happy, exercise, stretch, and to share their feelings with others who won’t judge them.

The National Library of Medicine can also provide tips for breathing exercises, meditation, and other relaxation techniques. 

If your child has expressed concerns over returning to school, the county suggests creating an open dialogue by asking why your child is hesitant. Parents are also advised to encourage their children and remind them that they have the skills necessary for success.

If your child is concerned about the coronavirus, discuss ways that they can stay safe such as keeping their hands away from their face, not sharing pencils or pens, washing their hands, social distancing, and properly wearing masks.

Palm Beach County (PBC) communicated the importance of connecting with your children. Parents and children can play games together, go on walks, cook together, and talk on the way to or home from school. The county highlighted that when spending time with your kids, it’s helpful to put down phones and other technology. 

Parents should also watch for signs of anxiety in their children such as irritability, stomachaches, trouble concentrating, and losing interest in activities they used to enjoy.

When starting dialogues with children, it’s important to be mindful of the information being shared. PBC recommends that parents make sure what they’re communicating is age-appropriate, that children are limited in their exposure to news and social media, and that parents check in with their children about how they interpret the information being presented. 

To set your children up for success, the county recommends practicing routines, especially when it comes to sleep. Parents should know when their children are waking up in the morning and have a consistent bedtime that fits with their routine. 

The U.S. Department of Health advocates for routines, stating that predictable routines help children feel in control, feel safe and secure, and understand when, as well as how, to perform tasks. Visit their website for more information about how to set a routine.

For more mental health resources from Palm Beach County, visit Caring First.

About the Author

- Gillian is a senior studying Multimedia Journalism and Communication Studies at Florida Atlantic University. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief at the University Press.

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