If you were about to start a brand new job or move into a new neighborhood, you may well have concerns about these unknown situations and demands. Your children are no different and starting school will cause a lot of questions and concerns to rise to the surface: What will I have to learn in school? Will it be too hard? Will I make friends? Who will I have lunch with? If I need help and my mom and dad aren’t there, who will help me? How will I get home?
These worries are not confined only to first timers either, and can occur in later grades as the demands intensify.
When you detect these kinds of concerns in your child, it’s very important that you become an empathetic and accepting listener. But often when confronted with our child’s fears, we try and sweep them under the rug by simply giving a reassurance. Or we attempt to help by trivializing the problem: “Oh, you’re worrying over nothing. Everything will work out fine.”
The problem with this is that you haven’t dealt with the child’s worries or questions. The first thing to do is to encourage your child to talk about their concerns. You do that by being a good listener. This involves being interested in what they are saying, allowing them to say it without offering immediate advice or solutions, and reflecting back the feelings you think they are having so they know that you understand what their emotions are. As you have probably noticed in your life, being able to unburden yourself to a good listener is half the battle.
Once you have done this, try to take away as much of the unknown quality of going to school as possible. Go over what you think they are most concerned about. If they are worried about what will happen, you can say something like: “I think you will spend part of your day sitting in a circle signing songs and listening to the teacher read to you. The teacher will also show you all kinds of different materials and tell you how to use them. Then you can take the materials off the shelf and use them whenever you want. You will also be able to go outside to the playground and play with the other children.“ Essentially you are summing up what their new experience will be like in more detail, while putting a positive spin on it.
Sending you child to school is a leap of faith – and a good one. Being prepared for it will make it a positive experience for everyone concerned.
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