5 Positive Phrases To Say To Your Anxious Child About School
Do you have a little one who is anxious about going back to school? First day jitters are common and completely normal. Every parent wants to smooth things over and comfort their children, but choose your words wisely.
More: 8 Calming Phrases To Say To Your Child Having a Meltdown
Here are five phrases you can say to your child to help them feel excited and less nervous about school.
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Tell me about your worries, I am listening.
If you sense that your child is stressed or concerned, invite them to tell you about it. Kids feel comforted when they know they have adults to confide in.
Try to really listen. Don’t feel pressured to jump in with solutions or rationalizations. Simply lending an ear shows kids we care.
It sounds like you’re feeling nervous about ____.
Parents naturally want to solve their children’s problems. However, many of them skip over one small detail that makes a big difference to kids: validation.
After listening to your child express himself, restate his words back to him. Paraphrase what you have understood, and double-check that you got it right.
How can I help?
Instead of jumping in with an enthusiastic list of ideas, ask your child what she needs. It could be that something small like walking her in on the first day or packing a special snack makes the difference.
Let’s list all of the things you are looking forward to.
Writing down all the positives builds anticipation for the good stuff. It doesn’t matter what your child feels excited about, whether it’s learning science or just Tuesday’s hot lunch favorite. Focusing on the things that will make her happy will ease her concerns.
According to Colleen Wildenhaus of Goodbye Anxiety Hello Joy, “When your child mentions being bored, lonely, or seeing friends on social media, you can mention how nice it will be to see those friends at school each day. Similarly, a child who enjoys doing research or completing math problems can be reminded that returning to school offers opportunities for new learning to take place.”
Each school year is a chance for a new start!
Failures from the previous school year, whether academic or social, can put a damper on your child’s future expectations. However, kids are highly encouraged by the idea of a blank slate. Help them embrace the concept of starting fresh.
What Not To Say to an Anxious Child
While there are many ways to get your worried child ramped up for the new year, there are a few phrases you will want to avoid. Discouraging language can exacerbate our children’s concerns and break their trust.
Never minimize a child’s fears or anxiety. Do not say:
- There is nothing to be scared of
- You’ll be just fine
- It isn’t a big deal
Notice that none of these phrases explicitly mock your child, and all of them are usually true. Nevertheless, they undermine a kid’s concerns. Kids worries are real to them, and validating them is the most helpful thing a parent can do.
If your child remains a bundle of nerves up until the first day, don’t sweat it. This is normal. Continue to offer your support as they adjust. Most kids will get into the groove within a week or two.
Set your child up for success this school year with the The Busy Parent's Guide to Raising Successful Students.
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Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families.