How to help your child deal with 'first day' anxiety

Lifestyle Reporter

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Lifestyle Reporter

How to help your child deal with 'first day' anxiety

First day anxiety is normal.

The fist day at school can be a very emotional time for both your child and yourself. It is very easy for children to pick up on your anxieties and to become anxious about going to school themselves.

Here are some helpful tips to help you and your child settle into school.

Be honest about whether your child is ready for school

There are so many recommendations about what age your child should be when they start school. The simple answer is - when they are ready. Some children are ready at 5, but some need that extra year at home to cope with going to 'big school'. Speak to your child's pre-school teacher - hopefully they will have some experience of going to a pre-school - to get a good idea of your child's strengths and areas where they may need more time to improve. If you have any further concerns then speak to the staff at the school your child is looking to attend and see what additional supports they can offer.

Drop off and collect your child for at least the first few days

Even if your child has a seat on a bus, if possible, drop off and collect your child for their first few days. Remember, whatever you decide, let your child know what's happening so they don't become even more anxious. If you are picking them up remind them on the way to school that you will be there to meet them and let their teacher know this will be the arrangement. If they are getting the bus then make sure they have an older 'buddy' - a sibling, a friend's older child - someone who can help them get to their bus and get on and off it safely.

Don't get emotional

It is very difficult not to get upset as you see your child go into school for the first time, especially if they are also upset. Try not to get emotional in front of them. Be calm and reassure them they will be fine and allow their new classmates and teacher to distract them. Do not stay in the class with them to comfort them for long periods as this will only add to their anxiety when you finally leave. Children may seem upset but most calm quickly down once their parents leave and class activities begin.

More tips and advice

- Make sure your child knows how to use the toilet properly
- When buying such items as a coat, lunch box or school bag, make sure your child can open and close them with ease. 
- Spend time with your child each evening if you can. Talk to them about their day in school and reassure them if they have any concerns.
- Read to your child. Not only will this help them to learn to read, but will also foster a life-long love of books and learning.