Five top tips to help kids deal with back to school stress from The Psychology Foundation and Desjardins

The Psychology Foundation of Canada & Desjardins Financial Security partner to promote stress management strategies for families.

Toronto, August 22, 2007 – What better time of year than ‘back to school’ to address the importance of teaching children to manage stress effectively? Despite what a surprising number of parents may think, the fact is that too many environmental stresses early in a child’s life can have some negative physiological effects on his/her overall long-term development.

Parents and caregivers are in the best position to introduce children to life-long stress management skills. Going back to, or starting a new school, can trigger stress in children. That’s why arming children with effective strategies to help them manage this time of transition is a wise time investment.

According to Dr. Ester Cole, psychologist and past Chair of both The Psychology Foundation of Canada (PFC) and the Ontario Psychological Association, “Any time of transition, including back to school, can create a range of emotions in children, including worry and stress. Helping your children with reliable information and a few simple tips on how they can have control over their everyday lives often helps put things into perspective for the family as a whole”.

The Psychology Foundation of Canada offers five top tips for parents and caregivers to help families at back to school time:

  1. Start preparing your kids for school at least a week before. For example, shop for necessary school supplies, arrange some fun social times with new classmates, practice the route to school, have them review some of the school material from last year, and get them back into a school-time sleeping schedule.
  2. Prepare a “Must Know” list for the school and teacher. The list will provide important information for the teacher, school office, or day care staff, such as allergies, illnesses, physical limitations, or any necessary accommodations that might need to be made, such as the best seating arrangement for your child in the classroom.
  3. Listen carefully and respectfully to your children when they talk and watch for possible signs of stress. Watch for these signs – such as disturbed sleep, headaches and/or stomach pains, a lack of appetite (or eating more than usual), anxiety, or poor concentration – both before school starts and for several weeks after school begins. Don’t forget to ask your kids if they have any concerns or worries about the new school year, then follow up on their concerns and provide information, reassurance and problem solving help, as needed. Remind your kids that you are there for them at all times, even if they have gone away to university or college.
  4. Be careful not to overload your child with too many competitive activities outside of school. Sometimes the best cure for stress is just to have some quiet time, or to have them be involved in a variety of non-competitive activities in the community or at home, such as walking the dog or volunteering at a community centre. Doing nothing sometimes is fine too!
  5. Finally, be a motivator. Be positive about school with your children and help them feel it’s a good experience. Monitor and manage your own stress level so that it does not create more anxiety for them and so they can pick up some good stress management techniques from you too!

Through a series of information campaigns and upcoming events this fall, the partnership between PFC and Desjardins Financial Security will aim to create further awareness of important mental health issues in the workplace and at home, by providing sound stress management strategies that can be used by everyone in the family – including children.

If you would like further information on stress management strategies, parenting, work-life balance or PFC’s Kids Have Stress Too!® program, please visit: www.psychologyfoundation.org or www.kidshavestresstoo.org.

Upcoming events

Managing to Manage Workplace Stress: Make Your Workplace Great! With Dr. Steven J. Stein

When: Tuesday September 25th, 2007 from 7:30am-9:00am, Toronto
For: CEO’s, HR Professionals, EAP Specialists and other senior organization Decision-Makers
Registration: Required
Further Information: Krista Saleh

The Struggle to Juggle: Top Stress Management Strategies for You and Your Family With Dr. Steven Stein and Featuring Information from PFC’s Kids Have Stress Too!® Program

When: Tuesday September 25th, 2007 at 12:15pm and 1:15 pm, First Canadian Place (FCP), Toronto
For: Open to the Public, FCP Gallery (Located at Street Level, East of the Adelaide Main Entrance)
Registration: Required. Register online after Labour Day Weekend, 2007 at http://www.fcpevents.com

(Media are invited to attend. Please RSVP to Krista at 416-878-7004.)

About Psychology Foundation of Canada

The Psychology Foundation of Canada (PFC) is a national registered charity that supports parents and strengthens families through a number of initiatives including creating educational resources, developing training programs for professionals, and delivering community-based education. Founded in 1974 to promote the understanding and use of sound psychological knowledge to better people’s lives, the Foundation is guided by a Board of Trustees comprised of psychologists and business and community leaders. PFC’s programs, like Kids Have Stress Too!®, Parenting for Life and Diversity in Action, help Canadians better understand how to manage situations and relationships more effectively at home, school, community and work. To find out more, or to order materials, please visit PFC’s Web sites at www.psychologyfoundation.org or www.kidshavestresstoo.org.

About Desjardins Financial Security

Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in group and individual life and health insurance, and savings products and services. Every day, over 5 million Canadians rely on Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. With a staff of over 3,700 employees, Desjardins Financial Security manages and administers close to $22 billion in assets from offices in major cities across the country, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Levis, Halifax and St. John’s.

Desjardins Financial Security is committed to improve awareness of mental health prevention through a number of partnerships as well as its annual Health is Cool! survey. To find out more information about the Health is Cool! survey and other mental health promotion initiatives, please visit our Web site at www.desjardinsfinancialsecurity.com/cool.