Written by Dana Kerford
The ‘First Day’ of a new experience is nerve-racking for a lot of children, and it’s very normal for kids to feel anxiety at these points in their lives. Here are some tips to help your child manage those big feelings inside as they prepare for a fresh start:
Use Child-Friendly Language
“Anxiety” is an adult word that can sound really scary to children. Why not reframe their perspective, and replace the word “anxiety” with “butterflies”? This can be extremely effective, after all – butterflies are not scary, and they can be set free.
Name and Sort the Butterflies
Get them to detail exactly what it is they are nervous about. Write each ‘butterfly’ or worry down. Next, classify the butterflies into two categories: Things You Can Control vs. Things You Cannot Control. For instance, a common butterfly is: “Will my friends be in my class?” Ask your child, “Can you control who is in your class?”
Release the Butterflies They Cannot Control
Help your child understand that worrying about something that is out of their control is wasted energy. It’s important to release those feelings and trust that life will fall in place the way it’s meant to be.
Make a Plan for The Butterflies They Can Control
Talk about ways that your children can tame the butterflies they have control over. If they’re nervous about what they’re going to wear on the first day, help them figure it out so it’s off their mind. If they know who their teacher will be, but are not happy with their placement, talk them through the positives and remind them that teachers are there to support and encourage all students.
Working through the butterflies one-by-one empowers children and helps them understand that they are in control of their feelings. Remind them that butterflies are a normal part of life and the importance of viewing them in a positive light. Butterflies come from change and new experiences help us learn and grow!
A version of this article was previously published on themompreneur.com on September 6, 2016, and on Dana’s website, urstrong.com