Is your child anxious about starting school?
I remember when my eldest child started school. They were was so excited. I was anxious... Will they like it, what will their teacher be like, how can I help, do I stay in the classroom? The questions were endless. We had done some orientation but it was still a bit scarey. Together we negotiated the year. They had a wonderful teacher. She was strict, but clear, with us newbie parents and we felt a part of the class.
If you're feeling some of my first day at school nerves, have a think about your first day at a new job, or walking into a new group of people. What helps - some knowledge, preparation, confidence, a friendly smile - these will help your child too. Drop them off confidently with a big smile, your confidence will transfer to your child (then meet up with the other Prep parents to express your concerns and try and find answers to your questions).
Share with your child what you know about the school, their teacher, the classroom, go over the information you received at orientation.
Signs of excessive anxiety in your child
These may include them continually asking you the same questions; having nightmares; changes in their eating or sleeping habits or other behaviour; crying or becoming angry for no reason; regressing to previous developmental stages such as wetting the bed, sucking their thumbs; saying they don’t want to go to school; and/or showing no interest in going to school.
Nothing seems to help
If you find these strategies are not helping maybe your child is not ready for school. There is no evidence supporting that starting your child at school early is beneficial. In many cases giving them a bonus year at Kindergarten is the best decision. If you want to talk through these options you are welcome to make an appointment, just call or send me an email.. You may also find it helpful to get individually focused assistance for your child to learn anxiety management strategies.
ps having your child first start school is one of THE parenting milestones. It may be a trigger for assessing what's now most important in your life, it may give you the opportunity to look at who you really are and whether your life is how you want it to be. If that's the case for you, the free From Overwhelm to Calm worksheet may help.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.