Remember your first day on the job? Your anxiousness the night before and the
pains you went to deciding what to wear? You probably wondered if anyone would
invite you to lunch and if you'd fit in.
Those are exactly the same
fears and anxieties that your grade schooler may be feeling starting the new
They are wondering, just like you, if they will fit in.
Specifically, they are wondering if they'll get on the right bus and if they do,
if anyone will sit with them. They are worried about their classes-will they
measure up? And, they may be worried about the bully who ridiculed them last
Given the opportunity, few, if any of us would want to relive our
school days. Kids can be a handful and protecting yours from hurt isn't easy.
However, to help you navigate these turbulent times, here are some strategies to
Encourage communication. Whether it is around the dinner table or
while driving in the car, encourage your child to talk about his concerns and
worries. You can set an example by gently relating your own past fears: "When I
was in school, I used to worry that no one would sit next to me at
Don't minimize feelings. It's natural to want to
comfort your child by saying, "Don't worry, you'll make lots of friends."
Instead, let him or her know that you sympathize. "It's scary to start something
new, isn't it?? you might say. "How could we make it easier?"
examples. Avoid telling your child what to do. Instead, convey your
suggestion by telling or your example or experience: "I remember when I changed
schools. I decided I'd make it through the day by looking forward to a special
reward when I got home-a cup of hot chocolate."
"What if I get
lost?" Starting a new school is scary, and even the change from one
classroom to another can be intimidating for kids this age. Luckily, concerns
about the physical aspects of school are relatively easy to remedy. Before
school starts, take your child to the school if it offers an orientation. Take
full advantage of this time to introduce your child to her teacher and explore
"How will I get there?" Unless you're able to walk
or drive your child to school and back every day, getting there will likely
entail riding the school bus or being part of a neighborhood carpool. For some
kids, these arrangements are scary simply because they are new.
child will be riding a bus for the first time, personally see him or her off and
promise to be waiting when the school bus returns at the end of the day. If
possible, see if you can hook your child up with another child in the
neighborhood who also rides the bus. Knowing someone to sit with can make all
"What if nobody likes me?" Just like your first
day on the job, your child, too, wants to fit in and be liked. Age doesn't
matter in this situation. Be careful not to unknowingly minimize such fears.
Instead, let your child know you understand how he or she feels: "It's hard when
you don't know too many kids in your class, isn't it?" or "I used to worry that
I wouldn't get invited to the other kids' birthday parties." Then ask your
child, "What can we do so you'll feel better?"
Hopefully, as time goes on, kids will ease into their new schedule, just like easing
into the first few weeks of a new job.
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