Most young children will experience some level of anxiety related to school at some stage, particularly when commencing their first year of school or at the beginning of each new school year or term after the holidays. They might worry about making friends, fitting in, finding their way around the school, their new teacher or something bad happening to their parent/carer.
Your management of your child’s anxiety and tears is central to their adaptation to school and saying goodbye each morning.
Be your child’s biggest fan and supporter
It is important for your child to know that you believe in them.
Get down to your child’s eye level and TELL THEM “you can do this… I believe in you”. Encourage them with every step they take in to their classroom.
With your child, and perhaps their teacher too, discuss the activity options for the morning classroom routine.
Does your child like puzzles? Is that an option? Reading a book with a friend or ‘class buddy’? Drawing a picture? Develop a list of activities your child can refer to after you leave. This will help your child with direction each morning. Predictability will help your child feel secure and in control.
Ensure there is more than one option on their list that they enjoy doing at school in case the first option is not available. This will ensure your child does not become anxious if their first option is not available, as they will have a guide of what to do next
Some children are anxious when they get up for school / before they get to school
Make school mornings as stress free and as consistent as possible…
I know school mornings are stressful and rushed for most parents. Calmness and routine can help your child to feel more secure because they are familiar with the routine, and it is calm and predictable.
- Prepare as much as you can the night before: make lunches, pack school bags, lay out school clothes.
- Stick to a routine: get up at the same time each day, get dressed at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time and leave for school at the same time each morning.
- Suggest a better way to say goodbye that is more fun than crying: a silly wave, a special handshake, a funny goodbye song. Be attuned with your child. Do what you know will be most effective to help your child feel happy and relaxed about saying goodbye. After all, you know them better than anyone!
Keeping mornings simple, fun and stress free will help keep your child calm and feeling secure.
If you are still concerned, make a time to discuss your concerns with their class teacher. Their teacher may have other strategies they have found helpful. Find out how well your child copes during the day and how long they take to settle down each morning. And if after attempting to use the above suggestions consistently, you find that your child is still anxious at school drop off or you are concerned about their level of anxiety, separation anxiety or ability to cope with school drop off, you may wish to seek further help.
At Attuned Psychology we have child psychologists to assist with management of separation anxiety to help your child. We work with you and your child to develop a plan and therapy goals to ensure the best therapeutic outcome for your child and your family. Contact us today to support your child in managing these feelings and to help you feel more confident in managing your response.