How Families Can Support Student Health and Emotional Well-being

Mother and daughter walking together, talking

Strengthening children and adolescents’ connection with their families, schools, peers, and other adults is an important protective factor that can reduce the effects of stressful life events and teach skills to overcome them.

School connectedness and a healthy and supportive school environment go hand in hand. These protective factors can help students engage in positive health behaviors and avoid multiple risk behaviors, get better grades, and improve mental health and emotional well-being.

Parents and families play a critical role, often being the first to help their children develop skills to recognize and manage emotions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. When families and schools work together, they can help create a healthy and supportive environment for children and adolescents to learn these skills at home and at school.

5 Things to KNOW and DO to Support Your Child’s Health and Emotional Well-being

KNOW: Parent engagement is an important part of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, CDC’s framework for school health. The WSCC model supports collaboration between schools, families, and the community to improve children and adolescents’ health through cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

KNOW: Schools can use a variety of strategies to promote the health and emotional well-being of children and adolescents including:

  • Setting goals with parents for building strong relationships with peers and adults.
  • Providing education and opportunities to help families become actively involved in their children’s academic and school life.
  • Using effective classroom management and teaching methods to foster a positive learning environment.
  • Providing access to counseling, psychological, and social services.

DO: Get involved in the health decisions at school. Ask to be involved in parent organizations – such as the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), school health councils, or school health action teams – to help improve the health and emotional well-being of children and adolescents.

DO: Make communication with school a two-way street. Read school newsletters and attend parent-teacher-student conferences to learn what is going on at school. Ask the school to provide educational opportunities for parents. Communicate regularly through emails, phone calls, or meetings to discuss your child’s grades, behavior, and accomplishments. Ask how the school is supporting health and emotional well-being and what you can do at home to support their efforts.

DO: Implement simple strategies at home such as:

  • Take time to talk to your child and be an active listener.
  • Acknowledge and ask about your child’s feelings to model empathy.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths before talking about things they can do to improve their confidence.
  • Children learn what they see. Model positive coping skills to identify and manage stressful situations. For example, going for a walk or practicing deep breathing exercises can help.

Visit Healthy and Supportive School Environments for more information.