What To Do When You Are Anxious About Your Child Starting School

What To Do When You Are Anxious About Your Child Starting School

School will be starting soon and parents can feel anxious, especially if their child is going to school for the first time. Parents might be worried about how their child is going to feel and do at school, and they can simply miss their child when she’s away.

Because starting school can also be an anxious time for children (and we’ll talk more about helping children with that next week), you don’t want to let your child know that YOU are nervous, too. That might add to your child’s worries. Instead, here are some tips for handling your own anxieties about your child starting school:

  • Talk to other adults, like friends, your partner, and especially other parents. Many other people have gone through sending their child off to school for the first time and they may have good tips and strategies. And they will be able to give you support. As we said above, don’t talk to your child about your worries because he might get anxious himself.
  • Connect with your child about school. At the end of the day, ask how your child how her day went and what she did. You can also look around when you drop your child off at school to find things that you could bring up at home, like “Did you see that Ms. Smith put monkeys on the bulletin board beside her classroom?” This is not only a good way to re-connect after a long day but also gets your child in the habit of sharing information about her life and activities. This will be important as she gets older and you need to know where she is and what she is doing. Children who have always talked with their parents are more likely to keep doing so.
  • Have a special goodbye or exchange reminders of each other. Maybe you have a special signal that you give your child as he is walking into the classroom. Or maybe you and your daughter can make each other friendship bracelets. These are nice ways that your child can feel the comfort of your presence and they can make you feel less anxious as well.
  • Get to know your child’s teacher. Many teachers have open houses either right before or after school starts. This can be a great time to meet the teacher. You might also be able to volunteer in your child’s class or at school. But don’t do this just because you are worried about your child and use it as a chance to hover. Look at it as an opportunity to help out the great people who are educating your child and maybe to meet some other parents in the process.

It can be hard to see your child go off to school, whether he is your first or your fifth. Remember, though, it is an important milestone in your child’s development. And, it might give you some more time to explore activities that you have always wanted to try out!

 

Sources:

http://www.ahaparenting.com/Ages-stages/preschoolers/Life-Preschooler/Mother_Separation_Anxiety

http://www.familyeducation.com/life/separation-anxiety/when-parents-feel-separation-anxiety

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/starting-school/separation-anxiety/

Image: © Ian Allenden | Dreamstime.com

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Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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