I just had an sms from a friend asking how to deal with your little one’s pre-school anxiety and here are my thoughts.
I linger at my kids’ school in the mornings partly because I want to make sure that all 3 of them are settled in and happy and partly because there’s such a nice family atmosphere and I enjoy chatting to the Moms and Teachers.
It’s HARD to leave your child at a school, whether you’re a Mom or a Dad and often I’ve seen people ask how they will know when they have picked the right school. The simple answer is that the right school is the one where you least mind leaving your children. Really. And trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right probe and ask until you’re happy, otherwise you’ll spend more mornings crying in your car on the way to work than you absolutely have to.
Managing their expectations:
Tell them all about their school, find out the teacher’s name and talk about the teacher before you get to the school (if possible), especially if it is their first time going to school.
I did a bit of a test last week when the kids had holiday camp. When I started to leave Isabel was close and I gave her a goodbye kiss and I saw Mignon sitting happily in the sandpit and thought I would avoid drama if I snuck out. I mentioned to the teacher I was leaving and not saying goodbye and we decided to see how that went. Trues Bob, next morning Mignon was very anxious, so I’m never leaving her again without greeting.
First day and beyond:
When the kids started at school I also found that the first day normally went like a party and they couldn’t wait to be rid of me. But they do strike a bit of a wobbly roundabout day 2 or 3 or 4. That’s fine. They are aware that they are being left in an environment that they are not yet familiar with. My advice here is also simple: Distract, distract, distract. Hang around for a couple of minutes, acknowledge their feelings, give them a kiss and a hug and then head for the hills.
I have seen new kids that have settled in in a snap and I have seen little ones that have taken weeks to settle. It very much depends on the child. I have also noticed that children that are a little smaller than their peers tend to take a little longer to settle. But if your child is in the right school they will settle down, promise.
What happens when you walk out the door:
Don’t underestimate the power of manipulation. They are crafty little buggers, our children. Sometimes I have also seen little ones cry like there’s no tomorrow and the minute Mom leaves to it’s all smiles and happiness. And Mom sobs quietly in her car.
In a nutshell:
Trust your gut. And give it some time, every child is different.