A Parent's Guide to Student Wellbeing
Whether your child is in primary or secondary school, they are no doubt under stress. These are the most impressionable times in their personal development, with anxiety and depression on the rise. In fact, 10% of students between 5 and 16 will experience a mental health problem. So we’ve put together a quick parent’s guide with useful tips to improve student wellbeing. Let’s help kids tackle the challenges of life.
Education is no easy road. Both parents and teachers have high expectations. Whether that’s to get top grades or pass the common entrance exam — this can cause students to develop mental health problems. So now that there’s a nationwide push on “catch-up” classes to make up for lost time, this just adds more pressure on them. Coronavirus was the least of their worries.
Spotting signs of poor mental health
We all know it’s fairly normal for tweens and adolescents to hide away in their rooms. They might groan when you ask them a question about their day or roll their eyes. However, there are a few ways to spot whether your child is actually struggling mentally, or just being a typical teen.
Counsellor and Psychotherapist Lucinda Foley works with young children, particularly those who are bullied, anxious or depressed. She explains that school can have a huge toll on student wellbeing. Trying to maintain friendships, going through puberty and exam anxiety all contribute to this.
Foley also says some of the most common signs are emotional or social withdrawal. For example, if you start a conversation about school, your child may immediately tense up, stop eating their food or try to change the subject.
Other signs also include getting angry or irritable, socially isolating themselves and changes in eating habits. These signs go beyond typical behaviour. It’s not just your child expressing their boredom or general laziness, but their need for escapism. If you’re worried about your child, always seek professional support from a healthcare practitioner.
Easy ways to improve student wellbeing
It’s understandable that parents just want the best for their children. Hence why student wellbeing should be a priority. So there needs to be a plan in place in both the family and school setting from an early age. Here are some easy tips you can include into your routine.
Encourage them to socialise
Whether your child is an introvert or extrovert, they should spend a bit of time socialising. This can be done with family or friends, virtually or face-to-face. It’s just important to encourage students to have fun, distract themselves and forget about their studies.
If your child is feeling more shy, organise a game night. Get out the board games or cards and play some music. Alternatively, try cooking meals and baking together. You could make this a weekly activity so that you all have something to look forward to and de-stress.
Go outside and play
With the summer holidays coming up, you could organise a family trip away. You don’t need to travel abroad, but even a day trip to the beach or going on a hike will suffice. Theme parks, museums and tourist attractions are reopening now. So capitalise on this and go play!
Alternatively, arrange a family outing to a park for a picnic, sit in the garden and read, or find a local tennis court. British weather may not always be on our side, so try and plan activities that are, well, rain-friendly… This will help to improve student wellbeing by teaching them the art of work-life balance!
Help them study
A great way to show your support is by helping them with their homework or studies. Offer to read their practise essays and give some tips. Remember to balance your critique with what they’ve done well. This will ensure they don’t get disheartened, but also gives guidance on where to improve.
You could also offer to revise with them. Create flashcards and posters together. Or just be a study buddy while you do some life admin. Either way, this will create a more motivating and supportive atmosphere that your child will benefit from.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. However long ago it was, you no doubt remember how stressful school could be! Times may have changed but the precedent still stands. You yourself may have grown up in a household that told you to just “get on with it” and put on a stiff upper lip. This mentality is not helpful for any child or student.
Listening is the most important thing to support student wellbeing. If your child comes to talk to you, allow them to share their feelings. You don’t need to worry about giving stellar advice or “fixing” anything. Just lend an ear. A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.
Be a positive influence
In order to get your child into a positive mindset, you need to initiate the habit in the first place. “Do as I say, not as I do” really is not a good look. Instead, lead by example. Offer to go on a walk with them or do a daily yoga routine together to create healthy habits. But telling your child to be more active whilst you sit and watch TV may send mixed signals.
Exercising has many benefits, mostly releasing endorphins (happy chemicals), which are natural stress relievers. It also gets them to focus on something else other than work and do something good for themselves.
Use the traffic light system
Getting your children to talk about their feelings might not be a natural thought process. In a recent podcast, Dr. Alex George shared his traffic light system idea to help spot poor student wellbeing and how to open up discussion. To share your emotions, you would use green for “good”, amber for “okay” and red for “bad”.
One way to adopt this system is during a family dinner or group conversation. Ask how everyone’s day was and share yours too. For example: “I feel amber today. Work was a bit stressful, but I managed to finish the report which is due tomorrow. How was your day?” Go around the table and normalise talking about feelings in a proactive way.
Get professional support
If you’re worried about your child’s mental health, then always consider speaking to a GP or therapist. We know that you want to give your child the best assistance possible. You just need to start implementing healthy habits in the household and lend a helping hand.
Alternatively, your child might need more learning assistance to support their studies. Here at Tutor House we offer mindfulness tuition for students, as well as SEN tuition for those with learning difficulties. If you’re worried about your child’s missed education over the last 18 months, we also offer catch up courses and GCSE/A-Level retakes too.
One final note
Student wellbeing is the most important factor often overlooked by the education sector. Yet it’s the very thing we need to focus our attention on! As a parent, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed with how best to support your child. So just follow the tips above and ask what your child needs. Facilitate communication and then go from there. If you need any more advice or educational assistance, follow our blog!
Does your child need mindful tuition?
At Tutor House we make sure your child is receiving the best possible help in their studies. Through mindfulness programmes, SEN support, personalised classes and more, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your child’s wellbeing. We make learning fun and proactive, but focus on how to mindfully engage with tutees. This ensures everyone reaches their full potential! Give us a call today for more information on how we can help you.Free Consultation