Starting school can be so exciting -- the new friends ,new teachers, a fresh box of crayons and a new backpack not to mention a hip lunch box.
But starting school can also be a big stressor for kids. All of the things that we mentioned before can also have a negative effect and create anxiety.
According to Dr. James Sparing, clinical faculty in child psychiatry at UCLA , “Some children have difficulty with transitions and need a lot of preparation and lead time to be ready.”
The anxiety creates the famous stomachache we hear so much about and the headache that accompanies it. Sometimes these symptoms start happening Sunday evening as the school day approaches.
Sparing suggests that if you see symptoms the evening before, have a conversation with your child and don't just ask yes or no questions. Don't diminish the fear by saying it's silly. That won't help much with the communication. Coach them to tell you more and open up about what they are feeling and what fears they may have.
Fear of the unknown
Nita Ferjo of Westwood, Calif., who holds a doctorate in education says the most common anxiety experienced by younger children on return to school is fear of the unknown – who is my teacher, where is my classroom, will I get lunch, who will pick me up after school, will I know anybody?
Reassuring your child by mirroring their fears with a answer like "I understand you are worried I won't be there to pick you up. But I promise -- at 3:00 I will be sitting right in the parking lot waiting for you."
Your child then knows you heard the fear you validated what you heard and confirmed you will be there.
If your child knows you understand the fear it can help prepare them for any upcoming changes as they embark on the new school year.