Many school-aged children are so filled with back-to-school dread that it can lead to suicide if not spoken.
Trending topics on social media can help you discover what is important to your kids. However, it is not as common to talk about mental health today as it was years ago.
TikTok has brought the “back to school necklace” to attention on Twitter and TikTok. While parents may dismiss it as another accessory that isn’t necessary, it has a deeper meaning that should not be overlooked. Talking about it could save a child’s life.
What is the “back-to-school” necklace?
Urban Dictionary, a website that defines new slang terms, says: “A back-to-school necklace is another name to a noose. This is because of the feeling of complete despair when school resumes .’
One user on Twitter posted a photo captioned, “Currently making my back-to-school necklace!”!’
For some children, the pressure from their schoolwork, peers, or family life is too much.
According to a study published in The Guardian’s British Journal of Psychiatrystatistics in February, seven percent of UK kids have tried suicide before 17.
The report also revealed that nearly one in four people had reported self-harm in the last year. Experts believe this could increase as a result.
Dr. Malie Coyne, Clinical Psychologist and author of “Love in, Love out”: A compassionate approach for parenting anxious children, was shocked to discover the trend.
“The trend of the ‘back to school necklace’ really surprised me, as I have a daughter who is almost eighteen and a daughter who is nearly ten years old. However, I believe it’s important for parents to communicate their feelings at home. It’s where emotions are shared and validated. Parents should encourage children to discuss their feelings with everyone, not just at school.
She said, “If you are concerned about the back-to-school necklace trend, you can say, “Oh, I read about that in the newspaper, have you heard about it?” But you don’t have to mention it unless you are worried about your child. Talking to your child about it is not going to make them suicidal.
Dr. Coyne stressed the importance of the correct technique. Dr. Coyne explained that “When your child talks to you about something, rather than trying to ignore it or distract from it, validate their feelings and say, ‘That sounds like it was really hard for you today.’
She explained how to talk to them about their mental wellbeing if they aren’t as open with their feelings, but she has noticed certain signs. If you suspect that your child might be anxious about returning to school, depressed or low, you can tell them, “I’ve noticed you’ve been spending more of your time in your bedroom lately. Instead of saying to them, “You’ve been doing that,” tell them what you have noticed.
She pointed out that parents tend not to over-parent 10-year-olds but under-parent the under-10s. Therefore, a different approach is required for each age group. Dr. Coyne said, “When teens tell you to “Go away”, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be left alone. They may be having a bad day. We need to let them know that we are there for them and keep an eye on them. You can say, “You’d prefer to be alone for a while, but I’ll check in later as it seems like you’re having a difficult day today.” Keep checking in. You are as important to them now as ever, perhaps even more. Teens better communicate side-by-side on walks and in cars and prefer short chats to long ones.
She advises parents to “unpack” what their child is afraid of about school if they fear that their child will be treated the same way as the back-to-school necklace means.
She said, “If they’re saying that I don’t want school, they have very black and white thinking. While you’re trying to figure out what’s causing them to be upset about school, it’s important to calm them down and keep your cool. If you can’t control your anxiety, your child will too.
Dr. Coyne guides parents to be concerned about a pattern in their child’s absences. You will take them to the GP if they’re ill. If your child is home from school, I won’t let them watch TV or use a computer all day. Then there’s no reason to send them to school. They will not go to school if they are ill.
She added that you could also check in with your child’s friends, parents, and school to see how they are doing.
To resolve a happy school environment, it is important to get to the root of their behavior. Dr. Coyne advised that children shouldn’t spend too much time away from school, making it more difficult for them to return.
How can you tell if your child is experiencing mental illness?
Dr. Coyne outlined the key indicators that a child is suffering silently:
- Are they withdrawing from social contact or any communication change? Are they spending more time in their bedrooms than usual?
- Are they content to be independent?
- Do they watch a lot of tvs?
- Mood swings.
- Consumption of alcohol or other drugs.
- Feelings desperation.
- Participating in activities, they no longer enjoy.
- It is not possible to enjoy life.
- Are there sleeping and eating habits out of sync?
- They may be engaging in risky behaviors, giving up their possessions, or saying, “I won’t be here much longer”.
- You may also be looking for signs of self-harm.
- Trust your instincts.
Even children are shocked to hear the term. One uploader posted a trend asking others to “Record yourself before & after googling “back to school necklace” and see his reaction in the video below.
Dr. Coyne stressed that children should look out for each other, regardless of siblings or friends.
She said, “It is really important to get children and siblings to look after each other.” You’re also trying to encourage kindness and empathy. You can tell them that they are caring if you see them.
She even put her advice into action. “I even said to them, ‘When you go out to town with your friends, I want them to look after each other, and I want them to look out also for their friends – and not leave them alone at home. It’s important to be there for them and look out for one another.