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We ALL get Rainy Days

I love the 573 area. The water, the parks, the people, the clean air, the quiet, the wildlife… and from the very first day moving from the big city into the 573, I noticed a very distinct difference in the children living here. City kids are very different from kids who live in rural areas. Rural kids look different. Not hairstyles or clothes. It is the look on their faces. They actually look you in the eye. Not to see if you are going to harm them but to understand what you are saying. They seem much less scared and very much more curious about their surroundings. They just have a different look on their faces. A look of confidence and joy. It is how a child’s face should look—carefree and happy.

Recently we met up with a 573 Superhero who helps people when they have unhappy thoughts, so we asked her to fill us in on what kids are thinking about this time of year with school around the corner. She gave us some great tips. Meet the latest 573 Superhero, Karen Salsman, Director of Clinical Services at McIntyre Psychological Services.

A caring woman with dark hair and wise eyes stands in the rain with her black umbrella.
My name is Karen Salsman, yes, we all face rainy days sometimes. It's all how you deal with the bad days that matters.

I grew up in a family of five children and both parents. We have always had a close relationship, spending many summers on vacation to various places. For that family size, my parents had a station wagon or a van to haul us all around. We all keep in contact with each other to this day. I have one son, so we have a close relationship. He just turned 29 this year. I love to make crafty things, decorating rooms in houses and offices. My favorite things to watch on TV are paranormal shows or, as a lot of people call them, ghost-hunting shows. I also enjoy being outside, even sitting and watching everything around me. I became a counselor after having some personal struggles in college and seeing a therapist myself. If that therapist could help me, I might like doing the same thing for others.

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573 Magazine: Tell us some of the issues children face this time of year.

As children prepare to return to school after Summer break, they may face several challenges and issues. Many children experience anxiety about the new school year, especially if they are transitioning to a new school, moving up to a higher grade, or are unsure about what to expect. Younger children or those starting school for the first time may struggle with separation anxiety from their parents or caregivers. As academic expectations increase with each grade level, some children may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of new subjects, harder assignments, and the pressure to perform well. Reconnecting with friends and navigating social dynamics after a break can be stressful, especially for shy or socially anxious children. Some children may worry about not meeting expectations or fear making mistakes in front of peers or teachers. Adolescents, in particular, might face body image issues and compare themselves to others, leading to self-esteem problems. Balancing schoolwork with extracurricular activities can cause stress for students with packed schedules. Overuse of technology, such as social media, can lead to cyberbullying, sleep disruption, and increased anxiety.

To support children during this time, parents and educators should create a nurturing environment that encourages open communication, validates their feelings, and provides opportunities for them to express their concerns.

A caring woman with dark hair stands in the rain with her hands together.
Early intervention and support can significantly impact a child's well-being and future development.

573 Magazine: As a parent, what are some of the signs that a child needs help?

As a parent, being attentive to your child's mental health is crucial to providing timely support and intervention if needed. It is important to know signs that may indicate a child is struggling with their mental health. It could be a sign of emotional distress if you observe significant changes in your child's behavior, such as becoming unusually withdrawn, aggressive, irritable, or overly sensitive. A sudden drop in grades or a lack of interest in schoolwork can indicate underlying emotional struggles. If your child shows a loss of interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed, it could be a sign of emotional distress or depression. Isolating themselves from friends and family or avoiding social situations they used to enjoy may be a sign of emotional difficulties. Unexplained physical complaints like headaches, stomachaches, or other bodily pains can sometimes be related to emotional stress. Significant changes in appetite or sleep (either too much or too little) may indicate emotional distress. If your child frequently expresses hopelessness, sadness, or unworthiness, it's important to take these statements seriously. Extreme mood swings, rage, or excessive emotional reactivity may be signs of emotional struggles. If your child starts engaging in risky behaviors like substance abuse or self-harm, seeking professional help is critical. If your child expresses thoughts of self-harm or suicide or is preoccupied with death, it's essential to take it seriously and seek immediate professional assistance.

A parent should remember that the presence of one or two of these signs does not necessarily mean your child is experiencing mental health issues. However, if you notice several signs persisting over time or intensifying, it's important to seek professional help. Early intervention and support can significantly impact a child's well-being and future development.

A caring woman with dark hair and wise eyes smiles with her chin up in the rain as she raises her umbrella like a toast.
Be patient and understanding...
A caring woman with dark hair and wise eyes sticks her hand out from underneath her black umbrella, checking for the rain.

573 Magazine: What can a parent do to help relieve stress and worries about starting or returning to school?

Please encourage your child to talk about their feelings and fears related to school. Be an active listener and validate their emotions. Sometimes, just having someone listen to them can ease their anxieties. Let your child know it's normal to feel nervous or worried about starting school. Share stories from your childhood or experiences to help them see that it's a common feeling. Please arrange a visit to the school before the academic year starts. Familiarity with the school environment can reduce anxiety, as they will know what to expect on the first day. Introduce your child to their teachers and some staff members. This can create a sense of connection and make them feel more at ease. Discuss what they look forward to at school, such as specific subjects, activities, or extracurriculars. Focusing on the positive aspects can help reduce worries. Let your child know that you believe in their ability to handle new challenges and that you'll support them every step of the way.

A caring woman with dark hair and wise eyes stands looks up into the rain under her umbrella as she raises it high.

Every child is unique; some may require more time and support to adjust to the school environment. Be patient and understanding, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if your child's stress and worries seem overwhelming or persistent. School counselors or therapists can be valuable resources in such situations.

Wow, those are some great tips and insights. As the editor of the 573 Magazine I know

none of us escape rainy days. I get a few thunderstorms from time-to-time myself.

After reading this story it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, before you take to

your child to see a therapist, or put them on drugs, or consider some other treatment,

maybe, just maybe—you first go see a therapist yourself? I mean, you don't want to

have someone changing your child's thoughts if you are the cause of the thoughts in the

first place. Just saying. And no, I am not a doctor.

You can contact Karen Salsman at 573.315.3800.

Now, GET OUT THERE! Go for a walk. Go for a ride. Go for a swim. Do something, do anything. Leave that sunken sofa to the worms.

Pics and words by the 573 Supreme Leader T. Smugala

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