Brooke Beyma of Tampa, Florida is a psychology major with minor studies in education. In the following article, Brooke Beyma discusses how to help kids adjust from summer fun to school routines, how to deal with separation anxiety, body image and self-esteem, all while taking on the responsibility of in-school expectations.
With summer coming to a close, it means that families all over the nation are preparing for another school year. Whether it’s a parent’s first experience sending their child off to the world of academia or they’re a seasoned pro to the back-to-school game, worries about what the new school will bring are to be expected.
But the hardships a child may face don’t have to be gone through alone. Active parenting and a positive presence in a school-aged individual’s life can reduce, and in some cases cease, instances of anxieties and poor self-image for students according to Brooke Beyma.
Brooke Beyma on Separation Anxiety
Brooke Beyma says that separation anxiety is a very real worry for school children. Though it’s more commonly associated with younger ages, specifically those in elementary school, it can follow children well into their teen years and cause problems with development if not addressed properly early on.
Parents of young children entering school for the first time should know that separation anxiety at this age is normal and to be expected, however, with proper intervention before the school year starts, it can be taken care of before it proves to be too difficult of a behavior to shake.
It’s important to get kids acclimated to the school place prior to the first day. The more comfortable they are with the location, the better. Brooke Beyma says that parents should be proactive in attending back-to-school occasions the school is holding, ‘Welcome Back Day’ and the like. Places are less “big and scary” for children if they’ve been there more than once.
Communicating with them prior to the first day of school should be exciting! It’s more than appropriate for a parent to be transparent about being careful during the school day, but they should take care not to project their own anxieties onto their kids.
All of these pieces of advice can be applicable to older kids as well, including high schoolers. Brooke Beyma explains that separation anxiety doesn’t end at a certain age, but it can be dealt with and lived with. For a special layer of comfort, send kids to school with something that reminds them of home (for younger kids, a stuffed animal, for older kids, a piece of mom’s jewelry, etc.).
A silent pandemic that’s been quietly affecting school children is that of poor body image according to Brooke Beyma. With children being bombarded with unrealistic body and lifestyle expectations, either through influencers on social media or overdramatized TV shows like ‘Euphoria’, positive mental health and self-esteem are difficult to cultivate and keep thriving.
Personal anxieties and worries about how one is perceived are quiet issues that students may not ever mention to those who care about them, which is why those people (parents, counselors, teachers, etc.) should be perceptive to these issues and work to counter them even if a student isn’t necessarily displaying worrying behaviors says Brooke Beyma.
Language and tone are minor things that play a notable part in a person’s self-perception. Kids are sponges, picking up small things in everyday conversations. If they notice the people they care about speaking of themselves in a negative way, it makes them feel as though it’s okay to think about themselves in that way as well.
Those around children should only speak of themselves in a positive manner- not only will it help the student’s development, but their own personal development as well.
It goes without saying, but speaking to kids in a kind, thoughtful manner makes all the difference- especially when talking about their physical appearances. It is up to authority figures in a kid’s life to instill healthy self-perception in the younger generation through cultivating an active, affirming environment says Brooke Beyma.
Encouraging open communication with children and letting them know that they have safe outlets to reach out to when they’re faced with negative thoughts about themselves is one of the most helpful ways to end the cycle of self-deprecation.
Anxiety And Stress
School, though fun, can also be the source of all of a child’s worries and strife. There can be issues about learning delays, feeling inferior or left out, etc. Although children are meant to enjoy their time at school, stress and anxiety can be just as equally expected.
Brooke Beyma says that mental health is just as crucial to academic performance as physical well-being, and parents and teachers alike should be more sensitive to that. Destigmatizing talk about mental health, feeling depressed, etc. is vital to healthy brain development, especially while kids are at the most impressionable age of their lives.
Sanctifying mental well-being from taboo culture will encourage open communication and a positive self-image for kids.
Leading scheduled lifestyles at home can also reduce instances of stress and anxiety. Setting times for homework, chores, and leisure can keep students from cramming, feeling under stimulated, and more. A less hectic lifestyle is beneficial for families with children of all ages.
And, Brooke Beyma explains that if children start exhibiting truly worrying behaviors, reaching out to mental health professionals can birth truly miraculous results. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are trained to handle situations that parents may not know how to maneuver, and should never be considered a last resort.