HomeArticlesHelp your Anxious Child Prepare for Kindergarten Success

Help your Anxious Child Prepare for Kindergarten Success

Kindergarten will be different than anything your child has experienced before and because of that there may be a significant level of apprehension – for kids and parents alike. Anxiety at school drop-off is quite common for kindergarteners. In fact, it’s developmentally appropriate for kids this age to be uneasy about new experiences.
While there are likely to be some jitters when facing a change in routine, there are things parents can do to ease anxiety, help calm fears about school and ensure drop-off success.

Talk it out. It sounds simple but keeping lines of communication open with your soon-to-be kindergartener is important. For parents, it might be easy to assume what is making your child nervous. But what seems scary to you as an adult might be different from what is making your child nervous. Find out what is concerning your child and help them work through their specific trepidations.

Stay calm. The single most important thing parents can do to help a nervous child is manage their own anxiety about the kindergarten transition. If a child is struggling with being away from home, parents are likely to feel nervous, sad or distressed. If your child can sense your worries it will just add to their concerns. Even young children are great at noticing the smallest cues that a parent is experiencing anxiety. Do your best to reassure your child – and yourself – that everything is going to be okay.

Set up a routine. There is nothing more comforting than routine for school-aged children. The week before kindergarten starts, start waking your child up at the time they will have to get up for school. Make breakfast, change out of pajamas and do a basic hygiene routine like brushing teeth and hair. Kids will start to get into a groove about how the morning is going to go. Plus, parents can get a feeling about how long getting ready for school will take and how much guidance the kindergartener will need in the morning. By the time school starts, all the kinks will be worked out and your family will have the best opportunity to start the day off right.

Make goodbyes short and sweet. If your child is having trouble at drop-off, make your goodbye as easy as possible. A kiss, a brief goodbye, and then it’s best to just leave. You may be tempted to stay, thinking it will ease the transition, but that can reinforce the anxiety your child feels about being separated from you. Then, instead of connecting with the teacher or playing with peers, your child will focus on the fact that they don’t want you to leave.

When a child has a significant fear that is affecting their success, parents need to strike a balance between validation and setting boundaries. Give a lot of praise when your child tries hard to make changes. Getting started in kindergarten can be tough for both parents and kids. If you follow these easy tips, you can help your child start the school year off right and set a precedent for years to come.

Michael Klinkner
Michael Klinknerhttp://evolvecounselingaz.com
Michael Klinkner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Neurolinguistic Programming. He is also certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Klinkner provides individual, group and family therapy to children, adolescents and adults in Central Phoenix and Gilbert, Ariz. Klinkner focuses on treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma and ADHD. For more information, visit facebook.com/michaelklinknercounseling or instagram.com/michael_klinknercounseling



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