In all likelihood, day two of school is a recap of the day one. In fact, days three through ten will probably recap day one. Because the first day of school for many kids is like a job interview for many adults. The same way that we want to pick the right outfit, say the right things and make a good impression on a bunch of strangers, they do to. We try to show all of our good parts while restraining our true thoughts and emotions. We try to play it cool, but when those emotions rapidly shuttle between excitement and fear, kids, and adults alike, experience anxiety (just like everyone else).
How can families help manage the anxiety?
1. Listen. A simple mathematical equation is two ears-one mouth=understanding. Don’t judge the source of the anxiety with phrases like “that is nothing to be afraid of” or “don’t be a baby”.
2. Validate. Let them know that this fear is normal by sharing an experience of a time you may have felt the same.
3. …but don’t Ruminate. Speak in action steps after allowing the child to fully exhaust their feelings on the issue. Let them know their feelings are normal BUT to manage those feelings they have to develop an action strategy.
4. Target Objectives. If communication is the problem create a task around that like one new friend. If organization is the problem create a goal around that like get a new agenda planner or downloading a new app. Basically, talk
through some solutions. Solutions will be even stronger if the student develops them on his/her own.
5. Follow-Up. Benchmark by checking in with the child to see how the plan is working. If the child is not talkative, you may need to monitor behaviors like sleeping and eating patterns to see if they are settling in.
6. Repeat as Necessary. For some kids, every day in school is like the first day. You may need to go through this process for a few days, weeks or months until comfort is established in the environment.