Navigating Your Child’s Mental Health as They Start School

August 29, 2023

A mother kneels down to hand small notebooks to her daughter as she prepares to go to school

Starting school is a significant milestone in a child’s life, marked by excitement, anticipation and sometimes, a touch of anxiety. This transition can pose unique challenges for both the child and their family. In some cases, families may find themselves seeking behavioral health inpatient care to provide their child with the necessary support.

Understanding the Challenges

The start of school can trigger a range of emotions in children, from eagerness to apprehension. It’s important to recognize that not all children will face mental health challenges during this time. However, some children may experience difficulties such as:

  1. Separation Anxiety: Younger children may struggle with separation from their primary caregivers, leading to feelings of distress and anxiety.
  2. Social Pressures: Peer interactions and the desire to fit in can lead to feelings of stress, low self-esteem or even bullying.
  3. Academic Stress: Academic demands, especially for older children, can lead to anxiety, performance pressure and feelings of inadequacy.
  4. Adjustment Issues: Adapting to a new routine, environment or social dynamics can cause emotional turmoil in some children.
  5. Communication Challenges: Younger children may struggle to express their feelings verbally, making it difficult for caregivers to understand their emotional state.

When to Consider Behavioral Health Inpatient Care

Behavioral health inpatient care can be a valuable resource for families when their child’s mental health challenges significantly impact their daily functioning, safety or well-being. It may be appropriate in situations such as:

  1. Severe Emotional Dysregulation: If a child consistently exhibits intense mood swings, extreme anger or aggression that poses a risk to themselves or others.
  2. Suicidal Ideation or Self-Harm: If a child expresses thoughts of self-harm or suicide, immediate intervention and support are crucial.
  3. Severe Anxiety or Depression: When a child’s anxiety or depression severely disrupts their ability to engage in daily activities and interact with peers.
  4. Psychosis or Delusions: In cases where a child is experiencing hallucinations, delusions or other symptoms of psychosis.
  5. Failure of Outpatient Treatment: When the child’s mental health challenges have not improved with outpatient therapy and require a higher level of care.

Promoting a Positive Back-to-School Experience

For families seeking to support their child’s mental health as they embark on the school journey, here are some valuable tips:

  1. Open Communication: Foster a safe space for your child to share their thoughts and feelings. Encourage them to express any concerns they may have about school.
  2. Establish Routines: Predictable routines provide stability and help reduce anxiety. Create a daily schedule that includes time for school, play, rest and family interactions.
  3. Encourage Social Skills: Help your child develop social skills through playdates, group activities and discussions about friendship and empathy.
  4. Manage Expectations: Set realistic expectations for academic performance and extracurricular activities. Emphasize effort and growth over perfection.
  5. Practice Self-Care: As caregivers, prioritize your own well-being. When you’re well-rested and emotionally balanced, you can better support your child.

Starting school is a significant life transition for children, and it’s natural for them to experience a range of emotions. While most children navigate this period with relative ease, some may require additional support. Behavioral health inpatient care can be a valuable option when a child’s mental health challenges become severe.

By maintaining open communication, establishing routines and prioritizing emotional well-being, families can help their child have a positive and successful start to the school year. Remember, seeking professional guidance and support when needed is a crucial step toward ensuring the best possible outcome for your child’s mental health.

About Central Florida Behavioral Hospital

Central Florida Behavioral Hospital is a homelike facility that offers treatment to children, adolescents and adults suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. Located in Orlando, FL, our nine acre campus provides a serene and therapeutic environment, perfect for healing and growth.

We offer high-quality care with all of our services that also comes with a supportive staff. Some of our services include our inpatientoutpatientchildren’sadolescent and general adult programs. All of these programs feature evidence-based therapies and are designed to meet the individual needs of our patients.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 407-370-0111.