Parents and children may look at the child’s first day of school as a very important milestone; often one that involves planning and preparation. It is also a day that can bring with it a variety of emotions; excitement, pride, anxiety and fear; sometimes a mix of all. In this blog I will be sharing 3 ideas of things that a parent can think about or try when preparing their child for starting school.
1. Sharing preparatory activities with your child
While it may not always be possible to involve children in all steps related to preparation for school, it might help to consider some activities where they can feel involved in the process. For example, asking the child to help with choosing a school bag, or help you with some things that are related to packing their school bag. Perhaps you can show the child what the school looks like to that they can start to conceptualize what it means to be at school.
2. The parents’ emotions are also very important
Parents and main caregivers of children are often so important for children to regulate their emotions. This means that the concerns and anxieties of a child can very often be contained wonderfully by the parent, especially when the parent is aware of how they themselves feel about their child starting school. If your child notices that you, as their parent, are highly anxious, agitated, or perhaps crying uncontrollably; the child might conclude that school is unsafe and scary, and in turn feel more fear and anxiety themselves.
I do not mean to say that is it not natural to feel anxious or worried as a parent. In fact, one may notice that many parents struggle with letting go of their child when going to school. What I mean to say is that it is important to be aware of how you are coping with your own anxieties, and that this might impact your child’s experience of their first day at school.
3. A goodbye routine
Perhaps you could also consider developing a goodbye routine that could be practiced as a small ritual that allows you and your child to let go and proceed with your day. This can be rehearsed in other contexts that are not related to school- such as making use of this goodbye routine when saying goodnight, or when leaving your child with a caregiver until you run some errands. A goodbye routine could include various things that could be meaningful to you and your child. Perhaps giving each other a special goodbye cuddle, or giving your child a goodbye kiss on their hand to carry with them when you are not there.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.