For some children, the idea of making new friends and learning new skills has them rushing out the door when September rolls around. But for other children, the fear of the unknown can squash their excitement. In fact, with so much change on the horizon, many children are left feeling anxious and overwhelmed. So how can you support your child starting school?
With these 4 tips, you can help your children work through their anxieties and get them prepared for this exciting new chapter.
Spotting signs of stress or anxiety
Sometimes it can be difficult to know when your child is displaying signs of stress or anxiety. During the run-up to your child starting school, pay close attention to these telltale signs:
- Trouble sleeping – this can be either difficulty falling to sleep or poor sleep quality.
- Changes in their behaviour – are they irritable or withdrawn?
- Changes to their eating – are they eating more or less than usual?
- Are they expressing signs of worry – do they get upset or nervous when school is mentioned?
If your child is struggling with any of these issues, it’s important to address them in a way that reminds your child they’re supported and loved. Here are 4 tips for comforting them:
1. Validate their feelings
It’s important that your child knows it’s okay to feel anxious about starting school – in fact, it’s normal! Take the time to sit down with your child and listen to any of their worries and concerns. Once you understand where your child’s anxiety is coming from, you can empathise with them and start working together to find solutions. The most important thing is to validate your child’s feelings and let them know they are supported – after all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
2. Get them comfortable with new things
One of the scary parts of starting school is getting used to all the new things. But how can we prepare our children for so much change? Start by introducing them to some of the things they will see at school. Try serving their lunch in their lunchbox or allowing them to get comfortable in their new uniform. This way, when it comes to your child starting school, they’ll be faced with fewer unfamiliar surprises which can help them feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed.
3. Don’t overdo it
How many times have you heard ‘school years are the best years of your life’? This is a classic example of overdoing it when it comes to reassuring your child about starting school. The truth is, there will be things your child dislikes about school – and that’s okay. The important thing is, to be honest with them about what to expect, rather than sugar-coating the experience.
4. Reward their bravery
While there are steps we can take to help ease their transition, it’s likely your child will still feel anxious about starting school. However, what we can do is reward their bravery as they face this new challenge. Praise your child for facing their fears and celebrate their bravery! This will help them develop healthy coping skills and boost their confidence.
When it comes to your child starting school, it’s natural for them to feel nervous. But with the help of these 4 tips, you can offer them the comfort and support they’ll need to face their fears and take on this exciting new adventure.