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2/21/20blog post

avoiding school burnout

6:30 am, the alarm goes off and you are dreading waking the kiddos up for school. It’s more than half way through the school year and every day is harder and harder to get them motivated. “Please, mom just 10 more minutes!” they say, or “Mom, my stomach hurts. Can I stay home today?” And you question does their stomach really hurt or are they just tired and don’t want to go to school?

“Burnout is something that builds up over time,” says Erin Webster, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “It can occur from being overwhelmed or stressed about things that may be going on at school in addition to other activities. Burnout causes a child to lose motivation and can impact their daily habits.” It’s important to keep your child motivated to avoid burnout. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, missing a lot of school in the elementary age (kindergarten through sixth grade) can result in poor overall health and wellbeing and academic achievement, especially in social skills and reading.

Thankfully, our pediatric psychologist has come up with some tips to help your child avoid school burnout.

  1. Create healthy habits. Healthy habits help with overall health and wellbeing. Come up with a routine and stick to it. The routine should include at least eight hours of sleep each night, incorporating healthy food and snacks, drinking plenty of water and time for exercise.
  2. Help your child develop coping skills. Even young kids can get stressed, but with your help they can learn how to cope. Encourage them to take a step back, listen to their favorite music, read a book, color, or watch a funny show. Encourage them to spend time with friends and have positive experiences.
  3. Help your child develop time management and planning techniques. Sometimes kids get overwhelmed with all of the different tasks that are associated with school. Talk with your child about the best way for them to stay organized. Maybe this includes keeping an agenda and tracking homework and extracurricular activities, or setting time limits for how long to work on school work. Talk over your plan for the week every Sunday so that they know what to expect for the week.
  4. Make sure your child knows that it’s okay to ask for help. A lot of kids don’t like to ask for help when they start to feel overwhelmed. Reassure them that it’s okay and they should never feel ashamed by doing so. You can model ways of asking for help so your child sees how important it can be.

Being proactive is the most important thing in avoiding school burnout. If you notice your child becoming burnout sit down with them and come up with a game plan. If the burnout is leading to behaviors such as crying more often, withdrawal or has a big impact on their grades – it may be important to seek professional help either through the school or an outside organization.

Erin Webster, Ph.D.

chronic pain, psychology
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