As the school year begins and we watch our young ones sport their backpacks and shiny new shoes, we know things have changed. But we also expect the littlest ones in our lives to be resilient to change and adapt easily when changes occur. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Whether you child is off to child care, preschool, elementary or high school, the beginning of the school year is often a BIG change. Children going through these changes may have no problems what so ever. But then, they may. Or their parents may. Children are used to the routine they’ve established. Both the children and parents have become comfortable and trusting of the teachers and now they are asked to try this again. Some children may show this through their behavior (especially those that have limited language). There may be more wetting accidents, difficulty falling asleep, more clinginess in the morning or throughout the day. They may be aggressive, hitting, kicking or biting their friends. They may be shy or uncertain about what to do and when. These children are trying to tell the adults in their lives that they are having a hard time with change. Take the extra time with these children, help them learn to trust you and be comfortable with you. Once that is established, the schedule, rules and routines will be much easier.
In a stay-at-home mom/dad house or family child care, the beginning of a school year may mean a younger child is losing a playmate due to school attendance. This child may exhibit some of the behaviors described above. Help them understand what is going on. Let them anticipate the school bus coming to pick up and drop off. Encourage your child to “play school” and let the older child explain what happens during his school day. Try to give your younger child a leadership role like setting the table, helping with a baby, carrying puzzles to the table, etc. Make sure you have fun projects or activities scheduled. Having go-to art supplies (glue, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, construction paper, cotton balls, popsicle sticks) can allow for children’s creativity to blossom without much instruction. If sadness and melancholy seem to sink in, spend some quiet time reading a special book.
No matter what your new school year means, make sure you discuss with your child what they are experiencing. Let them know you are concerned and trust they can do it, but if that you are right there if they need you. If it lasts longer than 2 weeks, is persistent, and causing you or the child significant problems, contact me. We can schedule an individual consultation. There is no reason the school year has to be tough.