Key Points

  • When your child is starting preschool, it’s normal for you and your child to have mixed feelings.
  • Talking to your child about preschool before he OR she starts can help your child get used to the idea of going to preschool.
  • You can help your child settle into preschool by attending a few sessions together, having routines, and communicating with your child’s teacher.

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Again, the second term started and our play-scholars who are stepping their feet for the first time in playshaala has little hard time getting used to the new environment. First few days at school are not always a comfortable experience for children and parents alike. Prior to the first day, children are excited as they receive their new bags, bottles, snack boxes and new uniforms. Up to that point, it’s only about the new items and about going somewhere with them. Children actually can’t relate this to any prior experience as there isn’t anything to reflect upon.

The reflection starts the day after the first day when they realise that they were left in the company of strangers. Often, same is the case with first-time parents who have a grand vision of their happy, cheerful child going off to school, making lots of friends on the first day and come back home with happy smiles. The bubble bursts when the child leaves the school in tears. Tear stained cheeks, runny noses; a sight that can easily spread terror in a parent’s heart. Immediately the thoughts go haywire.

Why did my happy child cry?

She’s never cried in this manner before. She loves making friends and meeting people. Were the teachers harsh with her? Did someone hit her? Did another child bully mine? What is going on?

I need answers because I’m heading for an exact meltdown like my child!!! Whoa! Hold it right there. Take a deep breath……………………….. Let it out.

Breathe in again. Let it out and relax.

Separation anxiety is as much for parents as it is for children. As adults, we need to try and comprehend the situation from a child’s point of view. Consider this; as adults do we feel immediately comfortable in a room full of strangers or is there a part of us that feels discomfort? How do we handle our discomfort? Often making polite excuses and finding our way out of the room.

Now apply the same situation to a child. What is bound to happen when she is put in a room full of strangers? Anxiety. (Young children cannot express or understand the meaning of discomfort.)

Anxiety in children is a hurdle that needs to be tackled to ensure a smooth journey at school. This requires a joint effort by the school and the parents. If parents don’t let go of their own anxiety, it will transfer very easily onto their child and make the settling process harder. Most importantly, to tackle your own anxiety and discomfort, you foremost need to have faith in the school you have chosen for your child. No school or school authorities have any intentional design to harm your child. Schools of high repute, give not only quality service but work closely with parents in the interest of their child. Here are a few steps that can help you reduce separation anxiety in children:

Never sneak out of the room

When you do that, as soon as your child realises you are gone, she will revert to her previous anxious state. Maybe in the worst manner than before because she feels you have deliberately left her.

Never make promises or bargains you can’t keep

Don’t say you’ll be sitting on the bench outside if you won’t or can’t. Imagine for some reason, the child is brought to play in the outdoors and you’re not there. What will she think then?

Expect regression

Your child might be great the first week and drag her heels the second, or she might be completely potty trained but start having accidents. Some children also seek solace in thumb sucking and some others have nightmares or bed-wetting incidents. It is quite scary when some children develop temperature but unless advised by a doctor, it is another symptom of anxiety.

Focus on positive and encouraging words

“I heard your new teacher has a lot of toys for you to play with. Would you like to see them tomorrow? How does your teacher sing rhymes? Is it the same way we do it or is it different? Did she read books to you? You know if you cry, you will miss all the wonderful stories she has to tell.”

Most of all, shake, shake, shake off the guilt

Admitting your child in school at an early age is NOT A SIN! Often parents start second-guessing their decision. Once again, please remember to have faith in the school of your choice. Give them a chance to settle your child. Do not let anyone convince you that your decision was wrong. As a successful adult used to make important life decisions, wouldn’t you know whether you should have put your child in school or not? Be firm in your decision, smile, have positive and encouraging conversations with your child and she will stop crying a lot sooner than you think.

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