By: Adele Paynter, Head of Lower School at Charlotte Country Day School
For most of us, underneath the excitement and joy is, at the very least, a slight tinge of anxiety. After all, newness and transitions–while fun and exciting–are also nerve-wracking. While I always loved school as a kid (yes, teacher’s pet, I know!), I still remember the “pit of dread” in my stomach the last week of summer. Even as a grown up, my end of summer was always marked with sleeplessness and the annual “I lost all my teacher power” dreams.
For our kids, the sources of their anxiety are both varied and predictable:
– Will I like my teachers? Will they like me?
– Will I have a friend in my class? What if I don’t know anyone?
– What happens if x is mean to me like s/he was last year?
– What if I can’t do the work? What if my classmates think I’m dumb?
– What if I can’t find my classroom?
So how can we help our little ones as they work through these worries and fears? Here are a few tips from the experts:
– Don’t interview for pain or ask leading questions (ie: Are you anxious/scared that…). Instead watch and listen to your kids. Decide if they are just venting (ie: they dump their anxiety on you and then seem fine) or if they need support (not sleeping, crying about coming to school, etc.)
– DO listen to your kids, validate their concerns, and help them focus on problem solving (ie: if x happens, what might you do/say or who might you ask for help?). Give them confidence that while their worries might feel big, they have skills/strategies to overcome them.
– DO let your kids know that anxiety is a normal response and that lots of their friends (and teachers!) are feeling the same way.
– DO teach them skills for controlling their anxiety (deep breathing, meditation, exercise, journaling, etc.)
– DO be a calm, non-anxious presence for your kids; anxious adults=anxious kids! Make sure you take care of yourself, so you are calm and ready for the start of the year too.
Happy Back-to-School Week, Smarties! Thank you to our friends at Charlotte Country Day for sharing these Smarty tips!
You can find Charlotte Country Day School at:
Mark your calendar for the CCDS Open House Schedule:
Wednesday, October 7, 7 pm
Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten (parents)
Tuesday, October 27, 7 pm
Junior Kindergarten–Grade 4 (parents)
Thursday, November 5, 1:30-3:00 pm
Grades 9–12 (parents and students)
For more information, call the Admissions Office at (704) 943-4530 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.