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Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs

The staff of the Gilbert Community School District knows that uncertain times creates hardship for our families – stress and anxiety, social isolation, feelings of loss and sadness, etc.  Please refer to the information below to help with maintaining the social, emotional and mental health of you and your family.

On the page below, parents should find information on:

  • Local Mental Health Providers
  • Self-Care Suggestions
  • Importance of Routines
  • Importance of Sleep
  • Importance of Physical Activity
  • Positive Parenting Tips
  • Additional Resources For Anxiety

 

I’m Worried About My Child, When Should I Reach Out To Others?

It’s normal for teens to feel sad during this time, crying sometimes because they miss their friends or because sports and musical productions were cancelled. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your teen likely could benefit from extra support if they have:

  • Changes in mood that are not usual for your child, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family.
  • Changes in behavior, such as stepping back from personal relationships. If your ordinarily outgoing teen shows little interest in texting or video chatting with their friends while stuck at home, for example, this might be cause for concern.
  • A lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Did your music-loving child suddenly stop wanting to practice guitar, for example? Did your aspiring chef lose all interest in cooking and baking?
  • A hard time falling or staying asleep, or starting to sleep all the time. 
  • Changes in weight or eating patterns, such as never being hungry or eating all the time.
  • Problems with memory, thinking, or concentration.
  • Changes in appearance, such as lack of basic personal hygiene (within reason, since many are doing slightly less grooming during this time at home.)
  • An increase in risky or reckless behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol.
  • Thoughts about death or suicide, or talking about it.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests it might be time for parents to consult with a mental health resource if they see the following in their children…

  • Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
  • Often talk about fears or worries
  • Complain about frequent stomach aches or headaches with no known medical cause
  • Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing video games)
  • Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day
  • Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
  • Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen.

Local Mental Health Providers:

Self Care – For Parents And Students

Self-care is the practice of taking simple actions to preserve our physical, mental, and emotional health.  It is not selfish but is how we can ensure we are capable of giving our best at home and at work.  Listed below are some simple suggestions that may help you and your family practice good self-care.  

Suggestions for Self-Care:

  • Pay attention to how you are feeling
  • Take some time to do activities you like 
  • Prioritize your physical health – be active, get adequate sleep, eat healthy foods
  • Take some time away from screens and devices
  • Connect with others on a regular basis

For More Information:

 

 

Suggestions For Parents

Importance of Routines

Routines have a positive impact on kids and families, particularly in time of uncertainty.

  • Routines provide kids with a sense of security and stability. This is especially important during times of change or uncertainty.
  • Routines create an environment for learning. Routines help kids learn how the world runs, and what they need to do in order to interact successfully in that world. Social skills, hygiene, work and healthy eating habits are all things kids can learn through good routines.
  • Routines help kids learn skills and responsibility. When you establish a routine for chores and taking care of your household, kids are learning to contribute, work hard, and take care of something outside of themselves. Routines help foster independence!
  • Routines help you connect with your kids. By taking time to teach and interact with your kids, you can actually use daily routines to help develop and strengthen the bond you share with your family.

Routines Benefit Parents, Too

  • Routines help you get through your daily tasks and free up time for other things.
  • Regular and consistent routines can help you feel like you’re doing a good job as a parent.
  • When life is busy, routines can help you feel more organised and in control, which lowers stress.

Tips for Working Parents

  • Create routines and a schedule, but be flexible.
  • Get on the same page with your partner and/or other adult caregivers.
  • Don’t compare your schedule with others – do what works for your family.
  • Make a plan for when you are working and your kids still need structure.
  • Use time when you aren’t working to teach your kids things they can do independently.
  • Let loose a little! Try to enjoy your time together, simply.

How Do I Get My Kids on a Schedule?

There are 2 things that really help to get your kids on a schedule and establish routines.

  1. Clarity. Involve your kids in making the schedule, and explain how it’s going to work in terms that they’ll understand. Ask your kids to tell you about the schedule, to boost understanding.
  2. Consistency. Once you have established your schedule, try as much as you can to be consistent with following it. If your schedule changes often, it will be hard for kids to follow along and know what to expect. Things will always come up and you may need to adjust, but in general, try to stay with your set schedule.

Routine Samples: 

Importance of Sleep

According to this article from Johns Hopkins, “studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and even depression.”

The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) offers these suggestions for parents to help ensure their children get adequate sleep.

Parents can support good sleep habits such as:

  • Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule during the school week and weekends. This means going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Adolescents whose parents set bedtimes are more likely to get enough sleep.6 To help decide on a good bedtime for your child, go to the Bedtime Calculator
  • Limiting light exposure and technology use in the evenings.
    • Parents can limit when their children may use electronic devices (sometimes referred to as a “media curfew”).
    • Parents can limit where their children may use electronic devices (for example, not in their child’s bedroom).

Importance of Physical Activity

Most people know that regular physical activity is good for our bodies (strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, helps us maintain or even lose weight, etc) but regular physical activity is also good for our minds.  According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can also reduce our feelings of anxiety and depression.  It is important to note that you don’t need a gym or fitness center to be physically active.  Activities like going for bike rides or walks around your neighborhood can be enough to help you feel better.

CLICK HERE for more suggestions on incorporating physical activity at home.

Positive Parenting

Gilbert Elementary and Intermediate Schools use Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an evidence-based three-tiered framework to create schools where all students succeed. 

How it works:

  • We have a common language for expectations in common areas such as the lunchroom, recess, hallway, and restrooms. 
  • We have established a system of teaching those expectations and a method for positively reinforcing the behaviors that we wish to see. For example- Tiger Tickets 
  • We have also established a menu of consequences which clearly communicates to parents, staff and students the ramifications of their behaviors. 
    • Majors and Minors 
    • Verbal Praise 
    • Be Ready, Be Safe, Be Kind 
    • I am ready, I will…
    • I am safe, I will…
    • I am kind, I will…

Things you can do (positive activities that can be done at home)

  • Keep in mind your child’s strengths and interests.  Set aside time to spend with your child when they are engaged in activities that matter to them. 
  • Establish clear expectations at home.  Keep your “house rules” similar to school expectations.  The key is to be fair and age appropriate when you reinforce the expectations.
  • Create routines for your family.  Organize the day so your child knows what is happening.  Be clear about changes or new events like doctors appointments or visitors.  Give your child a helpful transition warning to let them know what is coming next.  
  • Try to be consistent and know how you are going to react.  Say what you mean and mean what you say. 
  • Model the behavior you want your child to learn. 
  • Communicate clearly what behavior you want your child to demonstrate.  Phrase directions in the positive, telling your child what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do. 
  • Talk about feelings and use visuals to help your child understand.  Tell them you understand how they feel. 
  • Look behind the behavior and see what your child may be trying to tell you. Try to remember that however a child is behaving, the child is doing the best he or she can at that moment in time. 
  • Use positive reinforcement often. Genuine, specific praise has a powerful effect on your children’s behavior. This includes their efforts to work hard at following your directions and any small steps in the right direction. 

Positive Activity Ideas:

Parenting In A Pandemic

THIS RESOURCE from American Academy of Pediatrics offers good information on a wide variety of topics for parents when families are required to be home.

 

For More Information On Coping With Anxiety

Organizations that provide information on anxiety and how to cope with it: