Today I’d like to welcome author Ashling Kwok to this blog. For most children starting school can be an exciting thing but it can also be very daunting, especially for children who easily get anxious. For these children starting school can be very scary, but there are lots of things that adults can do to help make that first day at school less scary. Ashling Kwok, author of The Battle which features a child who is facing a scary first day at school, has put together some excellent tips on how you can help your children on their first day at school. And as someone who still remembers how scary my first day was, I can tell you these really are some brilliant tips!…
How to Prepare Your Anxious Child for their First Day at School
Just like adults, children can feel anxious or scared sometimes. This is a normal part of life and most fears will disappear as quickly as they came. But for children who are highly sensitive or suffer from anxiety disorder, the fear can linger and be so intense that it starts to interfere with their everyday life.
Many common fears such as starting school stem from a fear of the unknown or being separated from their primary caregiver, who is also their protector. For children who are still learning to navigate the world, the thought of being placed in an unfamiliar environment can be so confronting that it elicits a range of emotions that they struggle to deal with.
Children who are anxious often find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Instead, they will communicate their feelings in other ways. Being scared can be so stressful that it causes physical symptoms such as headache, upset stomach, or constipation. Children may also experience emotional issues and behave in ways that are out of character. This is because the stress triggers a fight or flight response leaving your child feeling panicked, angry, and out of control.
Creative strategies to help your child overcome their fears
Good communication is vital when it comes to helping your child understand and deal with their fears. Listening to your child, validating their concerns, and providing reassurance will go a long way towards putting their mind at ease. If this doesn’t work, it may be time to get creative. Young children have vivid imaginations and may respond better to creative strategies that help them feel safe and secure.
1. The kissing hand – Before your child leaves for school, place a kiss from one parent on the right hand and the other parent on the left. This will remind your child that they are loved and give them comfort if they feel scared.
2. Special notes – Place handwritten notes with special messages in your child’s lunchbox so they know that you are thinking of them. This will brighten their day and help them feel connected to you when they are away from home.
3. Comfort objects – Put your child’s favourite toy in their backpack or pocket so they don’t feel so alone. Comfort objects are a portable reminder of home and can help your child feel safe and secure in an unfamiliar environment.
4. Courage rocks – Paint inspirational words or phrases like ‘Have Courage’ or ‘’I am fearless’ on pebbles as a reminder to be brave. Let your child make as many as they like so they can carry a different one each day.
5. Worry Jar – Ask your child to draw or write their worries on a piece of paper and place them in a special jar. Make a regular time to sort through the jar together at the end of the day or week and discuss each fear in detail.
These techniques are designed to alleviate some of the stress your child may be feeling. However, if your child’s anxiety is severe or continues to interfere with their daily life, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.
About Ashling Kwok
Ashling Kwok is a children’s author from Sydney. She is obsessed with children’s literature and loves immersing herself in a magical world where anything is possible. Her latest picture book ‘The Battle’ deals with the subject of childhood anxiety and the fear of starting school.
Visit author’s website: www.ashlingkwok.com.au
About her latest book
Edward is anxious to start knight-school. He puts on his armour, prepared for battle. It’s sure to be terrifying with all those ogres and dragons about. But at school, Edward is befriended by an ogre who offers him some of her lunch. Edward soon realizes that maybe things aren’t as bad as they first seemed. In fact, his armour was holding him back. As he learns to let his guard down, magic and fun await and Edward realizes the dragons and ogres he feared are actually just like him.
The Battle is a story that every child can relate to and teaches kids that perception is everything. If we let down our guard, put our fears aside, and allow ourselves be in the moment, sometimes magic can happen. Now available in paperback, this is the perfect companion for any child worried about starting school.
Thank you so much to Ashling for these wonderful tips. I especially love the idea of the courage rocks and I can say that those special notes in lunch boxes do work, my own Mum used to leave me notes all the time and it always made me feel better! 🙂 Please do check out her book The Battle which is a great book to get if your children are facing any worries over going to school (my review of the book can be read here).
Do you like any of these ideas for helping children who are anxious about their first day at school? What things did you do or are you planning to do to help your children face their first day at school? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂