When you see your child in agony, you instinctively want to alleviate the discomfort. It’s very tough to know what to say in a situation like this.
You may say something like…
- You’ll quickly make new acquaintances.
- Give it some time and you’ll get used to it.
- Or there’s always the tried-and-true — everything will be OK.
You care about your children, so you naturally want to assist them in resolving the issue. Plus, you’re already anxious, so listening to 30 minutes of nonstop wailing when you have things to do and can’t let them stay at home is…insanity.
All children will continue to communicate until they are satisfied that they have been heard and understood. This is one of the cornerstones of the three-part parenting paradigm I utilise, Language of Listening®.
See also: Help Your Child With School Challenges
Because all children will continue to communicate until they believe they have been heard, saying “Everything will be fine” can actually exacerbate your child’s communication. This is where you’ll notice a child cry louder or for a longer period of time. They’re attempting to persuade you that what they’re feeling is genuine and valid.
There may be occasions when a child appears to respond and relax. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the child explodes or experiences bursts of emotion. Unprecedented upheavals will eventually surface – somewhere, someway.
Responding To Back To School Anxiety
When you consider anxiety and what causes it, one word frequently comes to mind: control. Anxiety is defined by a sense of being out of control and a desperate attempt to recover control.
Everything new is a big deal when you’re younger. Anxiety feelings (over what appears to an adult to be a minor issue) are quite genuine to children. I recall being scared to ride the bus with older children when I was a small child. I had no idea if they were going to tease me or give me a wedgie because they were so much bigger than me. It was terrifying!
If children are apprehensive about returning to school and are unable to feel in control, the situation can soon become out of hand. Weekday mornings can quickly become more like taming a caged wild animal than taking your normally pleasant child to school.
You can utilize a strategy called to describe what you observe if you know that all children must continue to communicate until they feel heard. This is when you meet your child where he or she is — right now — and validate what he or she is thinking, feeling, doing, and expressing.
This is what it might sound like…
“Going to school is something you despise. You wish to remain at home. This makes you feel at ease. You wish you could stay at home and never have to return to school. That would be incredible!”
Saying what your child wants and feels isn’t the same as agreeing with them or allowing them to stay at home. Validation isn’t a way to shift your boundary; rather, it’s a tool to help you connect with your child and get to the root of the worry.
If your child still feels worried, it’s a sign that he or she needs additional validation.
You can stay on your child’s side by presenting the boundary as a challenge when he or she nods or begins to calm down. This is what it might sound like…
“You wish you could stay at home, but buddy, you’ve got to go.” That’s just the way things are. There must be something that would assist you in getting through this… There she was, sobbing. That’ll do it. You’ll be able to deal with it better if you let all those tears out. So there you have it. You already know what you require…”
In my own experience, it took months of affirmation for my kid to fully overcome his anxiety. It became less and less each day until it was completely gone.
See also: 7 Reasons Your Child May Be Crying
Anxious children can’t hear what you’re saying if they don’t feel validated.
When I was overwhelmed by my son’s persistent concern over going to school, I resorted to saying things like…”You’re OK. Simply said, don’t cry over it.”
This was a difficult lesson for me because it shattered my trust.
He was telling me that alarm bells were ringing in his head, and I told him to ignore them. Or, even worse, pretending they don’t exist.
When trust is shattered, children will continue to try to meet their needs in ways that parents dislike, such as lying, aggressiveness, or seeking out a new place to belong.
A Child Who Is Having A Hard Time
Leaving a weeping or grumbling child to school is a difficult task for any parent. “However, most children are fairly resilient,” says Dr. Busman, “and we don’t want to underestimate their ability to cope.” When mom or dad goes, most children bounce back quickly.”
If your child’s teacher reports that she bounces back and participates enthusiastically in activities during the day, the best way to help her gain confidence in her ability to separate from you is to not overthink her complaints.
You wish to express your gratitude for your bravery in a special way. For example, tell her you’ll be back to get her and compliment her on her attendance at preschool. I’m hoping you’ll tell me about something fun you did when I pick you up.”
If children’s anxieties of something horrible happening to their parents continue to interfere with their ability to function in school, they should be assessed by a mental health expert.