If your child is just about to start school for the first time, you may be wondering how you'll both cope with the experience.
Don't be surprised if there are tears on the first day - as long as you can hold it together until they're in the classroom you'll be OK. And your child will probably cope with it much better than you might imagine.
But if you do find that starting school is making your child feel anxious about being separated from you, here are the top five ways to cope with feeling sad about school time:
- Recognise that separation anxiety is a normal part of most children's development, which they will grow out of. Even if they have to be peeled off you in the first few days, weeks or terms, it will pass.
- Be prepared for any anxiety to show up in a variety of ways. So their feelings about going to school may manifest themselves as bedwetting; arguing with siblings; becoming fussy about food; aggressive behaviour etc. See all of these as part of the bigger picture and stay calm when you deal with them.
- Don't hang around or follow your child in to the classroom. Even if they're upset, you're not helping by prolonging your goodbyes. Take them to their teacher, who is experienced in dealing with upset children, and will be able to help.
- Make time with your child outside school so they can talk about how they're feeling. Encourage them to do creative play at the weekends, as many children will express their feelings through drawings or pretend play.
- Talk to other parents. Sometimes it's reassuring to know that others are going through something similar. And the parents of older children will be able to tell you how their kids got through it. My son cried pretty much every day on the way to school during his first term. The first day he walked in happily, I thought I was going to cry with relief. Though this can be a stressful time, you will all get through it in the end.