Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School Anxiety

My boys start back to school this week. Last week they were both very excited. Khegan is still very excited. Riley? Not so much. This week Riley has started to get more and more nervous about going back to school. Sunday night he had a meltdown at bedtime because he had himself so worked up about going back to school.

"Mommy, I'm never going to see you anymore!" That's not true. His day won't be any longer than what it has been all summer. He will go to babysitter after school and I will pick him up at 5:40 - just like I do every single night. So I explained that to him.

"But mommy, I have bad handwriting! Mrs. Krueser is going to make me do my work over and over again. Or, if I write slow(ly) I will always be the last one done!" He is sobbing as he says this. I told him that he needs to slow down so his hand writing is more neat. Yes, that is what Mrs. Donohue said over and over in 1st grade. I reminded him that he got nothing but good grades last year and the Mrs. Krueser (Khegan had her last year) is a very nice teacher. Also, I pointed out that even if he is never has the neatest handwriting, he will never have the worst either.

"Mommy, what if none of my friends are in my class?" I explained to him that he would have some kids in his class that he knows from last year, but would meet some new friends too.

"But mommy, 2nd grade has recess with 1st grade so I will never see my brother or my friend Zane (neighbor boy) during recess!" I told him he would have plenty of time to play with Khegan and Zane after school.

I thought the anxiety would die down after the Meet n Greet on Monday night, but it only seemed to make things worse. Riley has always been a "slow to warm up" kinda kid. However, once he warmed up all bets were off! He is then super outgoing, if not bossy, and is very charismatic - all the other kids want to be his friend. So it amazes me how he has this anxiety every year before school starts. 

Every time he gets anxious I do what I've been trained to do, as a social worker, to help dispell the anxiety. I address his fears and explain why they are irrational. We talk about ways for him to make new friends. (Which he usually does very easily once he warms up.) He has been to the school. He has met his teacher. He has seen his classroom. He knows how his day will go. I've encouraged him by pointing out that he is smart and cute and funny and kids like him. Still, it does not seem to be doing the trick.  

Have your kids ever had back to school anxiety? If so how have you helped them to overcome it?

Here is a great article I found on Ease Back to School Anxiety and how to help calm your child's fears.


Kisha said...

Ah, poor little guy! Change is so hard and scary, especially for the little people. You're doing a great job making him feel better, mama!

Ann Marie said...

Thank you for addressing this issue. So many parents are happy to get their kids out from under foot and back in to school, yet forget to be sensitive to how the major changes in their daily schedules can affect the kid's behavior.
Next, can you write about how to Ease The Fears of Moms - Back To School Anxiety. I tend to get so emotional at this time of year. My babies getting older and all.

Busy Working Mama said...

Hopefully the adjustment will be quick! My daughter moved up to a new daycare room and was separated from her BFFs (yes, she tells me they are best friends forever at the ripe age of barely 3) and I think I took it harder than she did. Hopefully that will be the case the older she gets!

Heidi said...

Getting in the back to school swing is always hard. I've noticed that sometimes my boys are more anxious after the first day than before school starts. If their first day doesn't go like they think it will or they have fewer friends in their class than they expected, I sometimes have a sad boy at home. I try to work through it with them so they know that everything will settle down in the next few weeks.

Lindsay Williams said...

Kisha - You're so right! Change is hard for adults, so we MUST be sensitive to how difficult transitions can be for our children!

Ann Marie - What a great idea for a follow-up post! I may do that. Thanks! :)

Aleksandra - Awww. Lily is such a sweet little girl! Sometimes it is harder on parents b/c we want to protect our children so much. You're a great mama!

Heidi - That's great advice. Thanks for the heads up too. I am hoping Riley will come home happy and excited after his first day. I haven't even thought about the alternative!

Mommy Moment said...

Great article! So so great!


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