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BC Children’s offer back-to-school wellness toolkit to families

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:57 PDT, Tue September 19, 2023

BC Children’s Hospital is offering families a ‘back-to-school wellness toolkit’ with guidance and resources to support families, young children and teenagers this fall.

For some children, particularly those with social anxiety and other mental health issues, the first few months of the back-to-school transition can be challenging and emotional; conversely, others rely on school for social and emotional stability and support, and adapt more easily.

BC Children’s clinicians advise families to tailor their approach to meet the unique mental, emotional and physical needs of their child or teenager. Some steps families can take to support mental and emotional well-being include

• Open communication: Talk honestly and openly with your child, address their concerns and validate their feelings. Normalize that school can be challenging and that feelings of anxiety and related emotions are normal.

• Create safe and supportive environments: Value and praise your children for their unique strengths and encourage a healthy and balanced relationship with academics.

• Model behaviour: If your child is expressing strong emotions during this transition, remain calm, listen and show empathy. To teach them resiliency, you can encourage productive ways of coping, such as exercise, talking to others, exploring creative outlets and practicing mindfulness.

Speaking about the back-to-school transition, Dr. Jana Davidson, chief medical officer for BC Children's and BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre said, “School is an important environment for healthy development in young people’s lives. Families who create safe and caring environments where their child is valued for who they are, and where strong emotions are normalized, produce healthy, more emotionally-balanced adults. In the weeks and months ahead, I strongly encourage families to access supports and resources to create this environment for their child or teenager during what can be a challenging transition.”

There are also steps families can take to promote physical health and well-being. These include ensuring a consistent sleep routine and encouraging their child to have breakfast every morning. Families with financial constraints can engage with school leadership or community groups for support with this. Immunizations are also critical in preventing some serious illnesses. Public Health may visit your child’s school during the school year to offer certain vaccines, which protect not only your child, but also your family and the entire school community.

To support families during this transition and throughout respiratory season, BC Children’s has launched “Sunny Bear,” a new chat bot feature on its website. This platform offers families guidance on where to access care, services available at BC Children’s, and information on how to reduce the risk of serious viral infections.

Back-to-school wellness resources

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