As summer approaches its end and we begin looking forward to a whole new school year, anxiety is a natural emotion. Some of the children are excited about the “newness” of it all. Some will not be phased a bit by the idea of change. And some will be anxious about his new cubby, her new teacher, a new school… They are little, but their feelings are very real. Just like adults, and maybe even more so, children want structure. They like to know what to expect.
When your child is nervous or anxious, remember not to discount their feelings. They may be sad as a result of fear. Remember how you felt on your first day of work? I am sure it was a mix of excitement and pure fear. The “what ifs” can be overwhelming. Now imagine you are 3… or 4… or 5. You have no idea, at this age, what that feeling is. It’s hard to put into words the butterflies in your belly. The anxiety is real and palpable. At our age, we have learned to cope with it.
So how can you help your child? Acknowledge it! Ask them how they feel? What is making them feel that way? They may not be able to articulate it – give them time. Help them understand, let them know that grown ups feel that way sometimes too – VALIDATE their feelings. Then comfort them. Let them know it is okay to be nervous, sad, afraid… Tell them you will help, that they are more prepared than they think. Explain that teachers are helpful and that they can ask their teacher, bus driver, etc to direct them. Visit the school before to give them an idea of what it looks like, how to get to the bathroom, where to put his/her lunchbox, etc. It may not seem to help at the time, but it will lessen the unknown over time. Give your child time to adjust and point out his/her accomplishments to build more self-confidence.
I recently read this article about anxiety https://childmind.org/article/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-children-are-anxious/ . I found it interesting and think it could be helpful.
Lastly, make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats right and takes his/her vitamins. We are all better equipped when we are well rested and healthy!