Yesterday I reviewed a book called, "Feeling Worried!" by Kay Barnham from the Everyday Feeling series. To-day I want to extrapolate on the feelings of "worry" and give you some tips that may help your child face a brand new school year with much less stress and anxiety.
Unwrapping some tips to calm the back-to-school jitters
* Talk to your kids about what to expect, especially if it's their first time going to school. Allow kids to express their anxieties and make sure to follow-up with validating statements such as," I know that must feel scary." If they don't open up you can try asking, "How are you feeling about going to school?'
* Read a good and helpful book about going back to school. "First Day Jitters" and "The Night Before Kindergarten" are winners.
* Talk about making friends fast. Have them introduce themselves first. Give them three topics of conversations to help them connect. Suggest they ask others about the best thing they did all summer. Also tell them to say hello first and that may bring relief to other kids that are showing signs of anxiety as well.
* Parents of middle-school kids watch what you say out loud! Be positive. Watch your language (even if you think your kid isn't listening) and set the expectation that middle school is a good time.
* Open up and share your own feelings about when you had to face a new school or first day experience. Explain how you once reached out to others and got to know someone you never would have known if you hadn't made the first move.
* Remember that the night before can make the morning much more pleasant. Make sure kids have been bathed/showered, backpacks packed, lunches made and in the fridge and school clothes have been chosen and laid out ready to go. Make sure you know where the shoes and socks are... matched and easily obtainable for the big morning exit.
* On the first day of school say a quick goodbye. Lingering can send mixed messages to your son/daughter, and you want the them to feel your confidence, not your hesitation.
* Parents, its ok to cry. Parenting is a huge job and at each stage of a child's separation, be it eating with a fork, going off to college etc., each milestone is one more step that takes them farther away from you. Tears express your love and yes sadness as you let your little ones fly away. Keep those tissues handy.
* Transitions can take time, so be patient. Be there to support, encourage and guide them in each part of their journey.
* Reassure your child about how much you care. Chatting, hugging, and a warm kiss goes a long way to assure your child you are with them emotionally and spiritually even though physically you are distant for the day. Tell them you can't wait to hear about their first day and that anyone would love to have them as a friend.
* Take heart... your kids are more ready than you think and if they are not you will get there together. It's brand new territory for them and for parents too. Cherish each moment as they grow and learn and you as a parent must ebb and flow with the current. Both of you will get through it and your bond of love will become even stronger as you do.
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It's a wrap.