Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Blues: Helping Kids Conquer New School Year Fears

 Written by, Bernadyn Nettles

Fears of Starting Kindergarten

Every day for the past week, my daughter has been asking where her big brother is. He started kindergarten last Monday and she and I have both been missing him while he is away.  He has been having worries, too, about starting kindergarten, constantly asking why he needs to go and why his old friends cannot be there, too.  It has been an important reminder that kids have plenty of fears and anxiety when it comes to new things like starting a new school.  I wanted to share some tips below on how to help your child if he is also having these fears about starting a new school year.

Missing Her Big Brother

My daughter gets upset when her brother has to leave in the morning, whining and reaching out to him as he steps out of the car.  It crushes my heart to see her sad and it makes me miss him more. This morning she wanted to kiss him while we were still driving him to school. She already knew the time was approaching to say good-bye to him for the day.  He told her, "I'm not leaving yet, Lyla.  I know you want to kiss me."  When we pulled up to the drop-off line, he gave her a kiss and said, "I love you."  

Outside our home, ready to head to school for the first day
He got a new hair cut a few days before school started


Feeling Left Behind


She stared after him as he walked toward the school doors and she began pouting.  She has become used to following him around, playing and doing everything together.  She has also become obsessed with locks and doors lately, locking her bedroom door constantly as they partner up to lock us parents out while they play sometimes.  They have grown more attached over the summer break and I know she feels left behind, wondering what her brother will be doing behind those doors that she can not be a part of yet.

Outside his school on the first day

Starting Kindergarten and Going to a New School

Starting kindergarten hasn't been easy on Brody. He misses his old teacher and friends. Everyday he says he wishes he could stay home with us or go to his old school. They have been learning their letters, numbers and shapes in class but he already knows all of that so I'm hoping he isn't getting bored.  

Yesterday, he was acting like he didn't know his shapes and I told him that he doesn't have to pretend not to know just because they are teaching it to him all over again.  He also doesn't seem to have made many friends yet so I hope that changes soon, too.  He only talks about one friend that he hangs out with everyday which is odd since he had several friends he bragged about at his old school.  I'm afraid of him being dependent on only one friend in class this year because when that kid is not there, he may be lonely.   

Parenting and Teaching Kids to Overcome Their Fears


Parenting has a lot to do with letting go and allowing your kids to gain confidence and independence. I know Brody is overwhelmed with the new environment, bigger space, new routines, different rules, new people and being around different age groups of students. That is hard for a five-year-old to grasp.  

Tips to Help Kids with New School Year Fears

  • Talk to your child about his fears, worries and/or concerns when it comes to a new school year.
  • Let him know it is okay to feel scared and anxious.
  • Ease those anxieties and fears by going to the meet and greet to get to know his teacher, the new classroom and school if it is a new school he will be attending.
  • Encourage him to talk to the other students and make new friends.
  • Read books before the new school year begins that relate to the grade level he will be entering.  Read books and watch movies that show other children who are also scared of a new school or class.
  • Share your feelings and childhood memories of starting a new school year.
  • Ask the teacher about what new things the class will be learning that year and any projects they will working on that your child can look forward to doing.
  • If your child has any older siblings or relatives who are only a few years older than him, ask that person to share their positive experiences with your child.
  • Ask your child about the things he is excited to learn about in the new school year.

Eating breakfast in the cafeteria on the first day of school.
The cafeteria is a big change for him since he used to eat his food
with only his small class at preschool.
Sitting at his new table in his new class.


Growing Independent

They say a person's life changes every three months and that's what happened with us and with Brody.  I'm sure it's harder for kids to accept transitions because they may not always understand it clearly and change can be scary for anyone.  I'm sure, too, however, that we will survive this year!

Looking ahead, I'm already dreading the day my daughter has to start school.  By then, her big brother can help to reassure her that everything will be okay and I'm certain she will be more excited than worried to be in school with her brother.  It will be me who needs reassuring that everything will fine as I will be the one feeling left behind in the car, watching my two munchkins go behind those doors!

Did your kid have back to school blues?  How about you?

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  Merry Monday


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