Now Is the Time to Talk to Kids About the Disrupted School Year

May 6, 2020
mom and daughter talking

Under normal circumstances, the month of May is the end of the school year for students and the often-revered transition into summer break. For most teens, this schedule has been part of their life since their first year of school. Now that summer is starting and this highly-disrupted school year is ending, the emotional toll of the shortened semester and cancellation of many beloved activities may become more realized for teens.

Mental health providers at Centura Health are advising parents to be mindful of these emotions and connect with students now to help them process the loss of treasured events and celebratory occasions.

“The official end of this highly-disrupted school year can evoke a wide range of emotions and I encourage parents to check in regularly with their kids to understand how they are coping with this unprecedented time in their lives,” said Doug Muir, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Behavioral Service Line Director at Centura Health – Porter Adventist Hospital. “Giving children the opportunity to talk about their feelings and emotions is a healthy way to process stress and anxiety and help identify if professional mental health treatment is needed.”

Muir suggests using some these approaches to having constructive conversations:

  1. Scheduled family time or other family activities is a good opportunity to check in and provides the space to share concerns.
  2. Focusing on gratitude or three good things about each day can build resiliency in teens.
  3. Safely connecting to celebrate occasions and honor the transitions in their life that have been disrupted such as virtual proms, video chats and birthday parades.
  4. Remember that teens don’t communicate in the same way as adults. For many teens, text messages and social media apps are their norm and they have a greater need to socialize than adults.

Concerned parents can also refer to Let’s Talk Colorado for more information about mental health and to find some clinically-proven tips to help connect with their kids. In addition, Centura Health Primary Care and Mental Health Providers are available to help parents who are concerned with how their child is emotionally coping with their current environment.