Checking in on your child’s mental health

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Back To School

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Kids in KELOLAND will start heading back to school later this month.

The new year can bring stress and anxiety. Like many households right now, Tea mother Tara Johanneson and her family are getting ready for the new school year.

“They’re going back and forth on all the things normal school kids, you know, are worried about. Then they have the added concerns of masking, no masking and who are going to be their friends and who aren’t going to be their friends?” Mother Tara Johanneson said.

Clinical psychologist Amy Marschall with Sioux Falls Psychological Services says heading back to the classroom is always difficult.

“Every child I feel like gets a little bit of that, ‘It’s a new year; it’s going to be different,'” Clinical psychologist Amy Marschall said.

Marschall says it’s important to let your child know they can come to you if they’re having a problem.

“If the child knows, ‘I can trust mom and dad to tell them,’ they’re more likely to bring it to you,” Marschall said.

It’s also helpful to normalize talking about mental health.

“It’s gotten a lot better over the years, but there is still quite a bit of stigma about talking about mental health, and so some kids, younger kids especially, don’t necessarily have the words for, ‘I feel anxious’ or ‘I’m really sad.’ They’ll more express it through behavior,” Marschall said.

Johanneson makes sure that mental health is talked about a lot in her home.

“If their mental health is struggling then we’re going to see that impact other areas of their life and, overall, we just want our kids to grow up to be healthy, happy people and also recognizing that they’re not always going to be happy and how do they go about addressing those issues they have and overcoming them so they can be happy again,” Johanneson said.

It’s an important conversation for everyone in the family.

Marschall says another sign your child may be struggling is if they’re not feeling well often.

Marschall says if you think your child may need ongoing support, checking in with a pediatrician is a good place to start.

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