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How to Help Your Child's Emotional and Mental State of Mind
“Change is stressful and the unknown is scary for everyone, adults and children. We are living through unprecedented times and it is important that, as adults, we work together to help children cope.”

As students returned to school this week, one thing was certain, it will be unlike any other school year in the past. There are many new rules and protocols in place for the safety of our students, staff and faculty.

Many parents may be wondering how to ensure that their children will thrive academically, socially and emotionally regardless if they chose to attend in-person or virtual learning.

Jackie Taylor, school social worker, understands the importance of cultivating a safe environment for students.

"Change is stressful and the unknown is scary for everyone, adults and children," Taylor said. "We are living through unprecedented times and it is important that, as adults, we work together to help children cope."

Parents are encouraged to speak with their child before school starts about what changes they can expect. It is important to maintain a sense of calmness in these conversations. Talking to children helps familiarize them with new expectations and ease any nerves they may be having.

There are also many creative outlets that parents can use to help their children feel optimistic. For example, parents could have their child create a drawing that communicates their feelings and worries in a safe and supportive environment. Engaging in stimulating activities can give children a break from any worries they may be having.

Reassuring the child that there are adults at their school who are working hard to keep them safe can help relieve their stress. It is normal for children's moods to change regularly. As parents, the best thing to do is stay calm, listen and offer reassurance.

Although many schedules have been altered and/or shifted, sticking to a regular routine can help children find stability in their day-to-day life. This is especially important for students enrolled in virtual learning. Children should have regular bedtimes and meal times as well as specific time set aside for school work/learning and play time.

We are all living through an uncertain time. It is critical for parents to also take care of themselves. Doing so will help them care for their child's well being. Exercising, meditation and reading are just a few of the many activities parents and guardians can engage in to help relieve stress.

Overall, children need to feel safe and secure so they can have a positive outlook for their present and future. Parents can aid in this by shifting their child's attention to inspiring stories on how people have come together to overcome adversity during the pandemic.

For example, parents can talk to their child about companies like Mohawk Flooring who have uplifted our community by donating bottles of hand sanitizers to our local elementary schools.

Despite the fact that this school year will be operating under new conditions, it is essential to give children hope and a sense of normalcy. It is important for everyone to acknowledge that these past few months have been traumatic. However, it is equally as important for parents to remind their children that their feelings are valid and that they are not alone.

In addition to school counselors and school social workers who are available to assist students and families, Dalton Public Schools will continue to provide a Student Assistance Program. This program provides free counseling and mental health services for individuals who are experiencing anxiety, stress, and traumatic life events. To access these services students should contact their school counselor for a referral or call 706-272-6558.

Click here for more information on mental health resources for students. The link provides several different community counseling services for children and their parents as well as contact information for the school social workers serving each school.