As the summer vacations come to an end, it is quite common to find even the most jaunty children and teenagers sporting a sulky look and crooning a depressive tone. Then, as the re-opening dates get closer, the panic, lethargy, boredom, disorientation and distress become more pronounced especially with those who in the first place, are against the idea of going to school!
Parents of children and teens who are expressive are mostly familiar with regular tantrums, venting-out sessions and visible display of frustrations just when the leisure time is almost over for the year. But, those with children who are timid and less open about sharing their emotions and experiences, it is necessary to pay close attention to their behaviors, intervene and identify ways to simplify the back-to-the-school process.
Post-holiday blues, as termed in the West, is a phenomenon that is not only popular within the grown-up and working groups but also seen widely among children and teens. When it is unaddressed, it can increase their risk of undergoing stress, depression and anxiety for prolonged periods. The impact of these conditions on the mental and physiological health of children is deep and thoroughly influences their everyday habits and behaviors. Irregular sleeping pattern, decrease in appetite or increased intake of sugary and junk food, low energy levels, feeling withdrawn, a sudden disinterest in an activity or a hobby and mood swings are the common symptoms of post-vacation blues that you need to watch out for.
Here are simple tasks to help children and young adults cope with post-holiday depression:
Be prepared, your child too can feel disinterested about starting school after summer. Irrespective of whether your child took a long, relaxing vacation or hates going to school, the fear of the unknown or nearing future (beginning of the new academic year, a new set of peers and environment) or too much excitement about it can cause a fair amount of mental stress. Do not panic or be too surprised if you find your child feeling not so up for it.
Talk to your child about how he or she feels about going back to school. Allowing children to express concerns and thoughts about starting the academic year would help you to identify the intensity of their stress and engage accordingly. If their fears can be addressed by talking, ensure to give your undivided attention to hear them out and erase confusions. If the issues run deeper or seem too irrational, do not hold back from seeking help from certified counselors or child psychologists.
Do not over-think or dramatize the scenario. As much is it important to not give children a cold shoulder when they openly admit to not feeling so excited about going back to school, it is also wise to avoid making a big deal about it. Do not resort to imposing too much control, disciplining and becoming too strict if children or teens seem more adamant about changing their perspectives about starting school. Such behaviors only fuel their fear.
Empathize with their situation and tell them it is only natural to feel a bit blue while getting back to the routine. Do not judge them for feeling bad about starting school. Instead, share your personal experiences about how you inspire yourself to get back to work after a long break. It would help them to shake off their fears and disappointments and view it as a temporary thing.
Get your children to look forward to the positive side of starting school. New classrooms, friends, activities and subjects that would interest them should be the reasons for them to feel motivated to look forward to the approaching academic year.
Help them set achievable goals, challenges and outcomes of meeting milestones such as enrolling for a hobby class, taking part in extra-curricular activities or sports, actively participating in science projects and fairs, excelling in particular subjects or learning a new language. It boosts their morale and confidence to face difficult situations.
Get them to adopt a healthy routine during vacations. Long breaks from school and exam do not necessarily mean that your child has to be completely cut off from a disciplined routine. Ensure that you support your children to adopt a routine that gives them the right amount of rest, fun, play, adventure and work without going overboard on any of these. After all, all work and no play or vice versa can make anyone a dull and disinterested.
Remember, to get children look at academics and disciplined routine as a good thing for their overall development in the midst of your own worries may be daunting at first. But, your patience and willingness to get them to look at starting new chapters and reaching new milestones with optimism would make them responsible and practice a form of thinking that would impact them positively in the long run.