Forget about first day jitters. I am a teacher and the parent of an anxious child and I can promise you the serious child anxiety sets in after the kids have spent some time at school and they’ve had a chance to run into some problems that might be a little unnerving for our regular kids and kinda terrifying for our most sensitive kiddos. Remember how awful it felt when you couldn’t remember your locker combination? The panic of running late for class or worse arriving to the wrong class altogether. Our littlest ones have started to experience specialty classes like music and gym and these experiences are brand new ones. These specialties have been known to cause a few sleepless night for the shyest among us and some pretty serious child anxiety for the rest. These problems might seem little to you but I can promise you they are a great big deal for your children. How do you help your child cope with first week of school anxiety? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Visuals, Visuals, and More Visuals
Children are visual creatures. If they are beside themselves with worry about the prospect of gym class, show them some online videos of how a typical phys ed class is run. Does the thought of a fire drill make them panic? Show them exactly what will be expected so there are no surprises. The unknown can be far scarier than the real thing. Can you get into the school after hours? Sometimes if the school is holding a sporting event you might be able to visit the school in the evening and show your child just what to expect.
Practice Makes Perfect
Is that pad lock on their locker causing some serious grief? Buy a practice version for home and help them go over it until it becomes second nature. Believe it or not, a urinal might be a brand new experience for your little guy. Take him out to a restaurant for the sole purpose of practicing. Does your little wear shoes with laces? They may be on their own when it comes to tying them so get practicing.
It wasn’t easy for you either, right? Share your stories in as lighthearted a way as possible. Let them know that you didn’t walk into school with all the answers but you stayed the course until it all became a little more clear. Tell them about the time you forget your gym shoes and had to sit on the bench while every one else played dodge ball. Tell them about the time you sat through a math class you didn’t belong in because you were too embarrassed to leave. Let them know mistakes are common and everything will be okay.
With a little help from parents, friends and teachers the school experience can be an amazing one. Remember, don’t think your children have it made because they made it past the first day of school without any major mishaps. Keep a close eye on your kids for any signs of fear or anxiety so you can help them work through it. School should be a happy place and you can help make sure that is the case for your kids.