Going to school can be quite exciting for kids, but it can also be scary. Maybe your child is headed to Kindergarten or you moved to a new home and your kids will attend a different school. Maybe you just have a child who gets anxious about going to school. While it can be fun shopping for new backpacks and meeting the teachers, it can also be a very daunting time for a lot of kids. I was always nervous about going to school and understand that these emotions can feel overwhelming. The great new is that kids can manage these emotions and know how to prepare for back to school with the right techniques.
You may notice that your kids often look to you to see how to react to a situation. Kids will feed off of parents’ anxiety. A few days ago when we were in the bathroom going through the bedtime routine, my daughter reached for her toothbrush and we spotted the biggest spider on the planet in her sink. While I wanted to scream bloody murder, I felt her grab my waist and whimper and held my scream in (somehow). It’s not always easy, but it’s so important to model calmness. There are so many ways to teach kids to calm down from taking a breath to counting to 10 (or beyond). Remember that if you’re stressing about your child going to school, he will stress too. Stay positive and calm and it’s more likely your child will mirror those emotions.
Acknowledge your children’s fears
Think about how often you hear people telling their children who are worried, “You’re okay.” While I think it’s good to reassure children that they’re “okay,” I also think it’s important to acknowledge that you hear them and you know they’re feeling scared. Listen to your child and validate his concerns. Think about times your child felt anxious in the past (maybe before school started last year or before a karate or dance recital). Remind them how well things turned out and reiterate how he did a good job coping and could use the same skills again in this situation. Tell your child that it’s okay to feel worried/anxious/scared and you’re hear to listen and help.
Reassure your child
Children often worry about things like whether or not the teacher will like them or if they’ll make friends in their class. Make it a point to tell them that they will meet new people and get to enjoy activities and games. Reassure your child that school is a fun and safe space.
If you can, visit the school in advance. We moved to a new town, so I intentionally drive past the school every couple of days and point out the playground equipment and talk about how “cool” the new school is going to be. We have been trying to meet lots of new neighbors and have play dates so my kids will know some familiar faces when they get on the bus. I’m trying to do all I can to ensure they’re comfortable with their new environment during these weeks and days leading up to school starting in hopes of less jitters on their first day.
There are various ways to help a child feel more relaxed when it comes to heading to school. Learn about and put these techniques in place so you can help prepare your kids to start this school year feeling confident and relaxed.
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