All over the United States, families are immersed in that "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - Back to School. Moms everywhere are busy scooping up back packs and glue sticks, sharpening pencils and locating long ignored sneakers. Lines are drawn left and right through school supply lists. Lamentations have been heard for the reality of the high cost of higher math calculators. Closets are freshly scoured, jeans replenished and, everywhere, the countdown has begun.
Nerves may have also come to visit in your house.
Maybe your child had a difficult school year last year. Maybe there was bullying, or a teacher who was less than stellar. It's possible that your child was the bully, and he has a fresh desire to start this year off differently. It's quite possible that your child isn't so nervous about the "reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic" - but her nerves are in shambles about the friendship aspect of school.
How do you make sure your child feels encouraged and emotionally prepared to return to school?
- Discuss - Half of the foundation of a nervous attitude is fear of the unknown. So talk about those areas of concern. Is your child afraid of being bullied at PE? Talk about how things have been handled in the past and how your child can help them be resolved differently this year. Even if it seems like a trite matter, it's as important as the world to your child; so take the time to listen.
- Role Play - Practice doesn't Make Perfect - Practice Makes Habit. Have your child show you how he reacted in the past, and work out scenarios to practice a better reaction.
- Get Involved - Be present for your child at home, and make sure that he knows you are there at any time. Ask leading questions, those questions that can't be answered with a yes or no. If your schedule allows, be present in the school - volunteer. Find times that you can discuss the areas of concern with your child in a non aggressive matter; perhaps a car ride or while cooking dinner.
- Involve others - Make sure that the others involved in your child's education - teachers, aides and the like - are aware of the areas with which your child is nervous.
- Focus on the positive - Ask your child: What are some of the things your child is excited about for the upcoming school year? Take the time to create a list of those great things, and if a negative thought comes out to play, remind your child of the good stuff.
- Put on a happy face - Above all, be encouraging. Your child will take her cues from you, and if you continually obsess and focus on the negative, it will teach your child that the very things she worries about are really and truly "big things". Talk about the goals that you have for your child, and ask what your child would like to accomplish, and set concrete steps to succeed with those desires.
Have you ever had to deal with a situation that makes your child nervous when he is going back to school? How did you handle it? Maybe it was you who was nervous as a youngster - how did your parents respond?