School's out, and although the celebrations have begun, the beginning of summer vacation is a good opportunity for a family to take a step back and reflect on the school year, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
"It's a good time for parents to think about any difficulties their child had over the year and whether there are any concerns or changes in behavior that they should address during the summer," said Dr. Efrain Bleiberg, professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at BCM.
Any concerns, troubles?
Parents should consider whether their child had changes in grades, concerns from teachers, trouble making friends or changes in mood, such as being more irritable or distracted. Because the day-to-day school responsibilities are not there, summer is a good time to deal with any concerns and get help for a child if they need it.
It is important to address this as a family issue rather than just the child's, said Bleiberg.
Discuss goals, opportunities
Having open communication is an important first step. If a parent sees that there is a need for help, they can consult with experts who specialize in working with families.
Families should discuss goals and opportunities for the next year, and be sure to learn from the past year's concerns.
"You should also take this time to appreciate what went right during the school year, and make it a goal to do more of this in the coming year," said Bleiberg.
Parents should recognize that there is nothing wrong with them because there may be a behavioral or psychological concern with their child. Taking away the stigma that this is shameful is important in getting help for the entire family.
Recognize danger signs
Bleiberg noted that there are a few signs that parents should look out for that may indicate their child needs immediate attention from a health care professional.
If a child appears so distraught that it raises concerns about self-harm or harm to anyone else, parents should seek care immediately. Also, if a child appears to be withdrawn and isolated or displays erratic behavior, these could be signs of a bigger issue that should be addressed at once.