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How to Support your Child’s Transition into Kindergarten … and learn useful tips for yourself!

 

If you are a parent to a little person, then you can appreciate how quickly they change as they grow up. It feels like one day you are swaddling them and the next they are about to have their first day of school.

 

What?!? Where did the time go?

 

When they were infants, time seemed to stand still. It was a seemingly endless cycle of feeding, burping, diapering and sleeping (them, not you). You could not wait for them to finally smile at you, sit up by themselves, eat food and say their first words. And then boom – it’s like you jump on a parental time warp machine. Hold on, ‘cause it’s a fast ride. They keep getting smarter and stronger, while you are just trying to hang on for dear life, LOL!

 

Next stop: Kindergarten!

 

Going to school is a big milestone for a little person and their parents. Understandably, this transition comes with mixed emotions for both. On one hand, they won’t be with their parent or familiar pre-school anymore. Going to a “big kid school” can naturally cause your little one to feel uneasy, or even downright scared. Don’t be surprised if this temporarily affects their behaviours. More on that later.

 

Kids really like their routines and the predictability they bring. When those routines are uprooted, it can be very unnerving for them. Also, many kids are shy around strangers and easily intimidated by new places. This can cause stress as well. Additionally, kids without siblings are not used to sharing a space with older kids. All of these changes may feel scary for little people. These fears may be compounded by well-meaning parents who tell them how exciting and wonderful going to school will be. Parents don’t necessarily know that their kids’ feelings of unease can be expedited by all of the adults around them being so excited and enthusiastic – while they are left feeling scared. This can cause a lot of confusion and promote feeling misunderstood: “Why am I afraid if everyone else is so happy about me going to school?”

 

How do you help your new Kindergartener cope with their emotions and fears?

 

But wait, it’s not just hard for them … This is a big transition for you too!

 

Before we jump to solutions, lets first take a quick look how you, the parent, are feeling about your child going to school. Your routines are also disrupted, which can be very stressful for a busy household. Now you are adding a bunch of new tasks to your list, like packing lunches, getting your child and you out of the house on time, dropping them off at school (which happens to be the same time you have to be at work too!), rushing to pick them up again after school or arranging for someone else to take care of them while you are still working, organizing your vacations around school schedules, finding someone to watch them during professional days. Agh!

 

Ever wonder how other parents appear to do it all?

 

 

Don’t be surprised if you feel a mix of unexpected emotions, especially guilt. It’s part of the course of parenting. Most parents struggle with this, even if it appears they are managing on the outside. Here a few examples of some of the feelings you may feel:  You might feel sad, because you won’t be spending as much time with your little one anymore. Until now, you had most of the influence on your child’s development, so maybe you feel apprehensive at the thought of handing them over to teachers you don’t know (and did not choose). It’s also very common to feel concerned that your child is not ready for school yet. Perhaps you are afraid that their communication or social skills are less developed than others? We all know that kids develop at different speeds, but now that they are inevitably going to be comparing themselves to other kids their age (and graded accordingly in the near future), this can cause anxiety for parents too.

 

After all, we just really want our children to be happy, supported and encouraged, right?

 

Okay, enough with all of the challenges.

Are you ready to jump to action and knock this school thing out of the park? Then keep reading. Let’s look at what you can do to best support your new Kindergartener and yourself:

 

  1. More being, less doing. As busy parents, we easily fall into the “doing” trap. Our to-do lists were endless even before they start going to school. The trap of focusing on the “doing” of things can mean we do not pay attention to their “being”. Don’t beat yourself up over this; it’s easy a parent’s default mode, but you can change the default once you are aware that you are doing it. Instead, slow down and check in to how your child is really feeling in the moment. To do that, you need to focus less on what has to be done and more on truly being present with them. They won’t remember how clean the house was, but they will remember how you helped them through difficult patches. How do they feel about the change ahead? Spend quality time just being together and inquiring how they feel about the change.

 

  1. Talk things through. Although little ones are not able to articulate their feelings that well yet – and don’t necessarily reach out to about how they are doing – there is a lot going on in their little hearts and minds. Going to school for the first time is a big step for them. Big steps are less scary when they feel that their parent’s understand. Again, don’t be surprised if you notice some behaviour changes as they try to process the idea of going to school for the first time.

These behaviours can look different from child to child. Some may act out more while others withdraw. Some may be more clingy than normal. Or they are easily frustrated and cranky. Often this is the expression of a subconscious need for you to set reassuring boundaries. Boundaries and routines are grounding for little minds who are confused. Talking about what is happening and acknowledging their feelings is also really important. This may be hard for you to do, perhaps in part due to your own emotions about them going to school? But as their role model and confidant, they look to you to lead the way. Take the time to inquire and listen to what they have to say. Reassure them that you will be there to help them every step of the way.

If you child has trouble talking about how they feel, they could also use dolls or stuffed animals to act out with you. Alternatively, have your child do a drawing on the topic to ascertain how they may feel about the upcoming changes. Parental reassurance is huge.

 

  1. Remember that challenges are the greatest learning tool. The truth is that humans grow and evolve out of adversity. We learn most when we are challenged. When things go well, we don’t have an impetuous to change. When our surroundings change, we have to learn skills beyond the ones we currently have. When we are in new situations, we are called upon to dig deeper. In so doing, we learn what we are capable of, our skill level expands and so does our confidence. It is the same for children. Going to school for the first time may feel daunting, but it is all part of the bigger scheme of their evolution as human beings to learn and grow. They have everything they need inside of them to succeed. This brings us to the next tip.

 

  1. Trust in the strength and resiliency within your child. As their parent, believe wholeheartedly that they are resourceful and capable. Your trust in them will help them cope with challenges. If you are saying all the right words, but don’t believe what you are saying, your child will pick up on this. They will notice a disconnect between what you are saying and how you feel. This can really undermine their confidence. As a parent, it is important to fully step into the space of trusting and believing that your child – like other children – will be fine. Through the years, your role will continue to be to prepare them for more challenges ahead. And to instill in them the values and skills they can apply across the board to succeed in different situations as they grow older. But it all starts in believing in them. And believing in your own ability to be enough as a parent.

 

  1. Replace judgment with curiosity. Consider the positive and be curious instead of negatively biased. What if the teachers are amazing and your child now has the opportunity to be exposed to new stimuli and ideas to develop and learn and grow even more than before? How great will it be when your kids can read? Maybe your child will meet a future life long friend in school? Perhaps you will connect with a few new like-minded parents? School also offers different roles parents can play in their child’s learning, as well as extra-curricular activities to be involved in. Approaching this chapter with curiosity will help you embrace the changes with a constructive attitude.

 

You may wonder where I draw my inspiration for the points above? Besides my background in psychology, and being a mom to a pre-schooler about to go to Kindergarten, the skills I listed rest in the foundations of coaching. Unfortunately, we do not learn coaching skills in school, although it sure would have been helpful! You don’t need to become a psychologist or certified coach like myself, to learn life-changing coaching skills. I teach them to people like you within The Self Coach Approach programs I have designed. You can use all of the skills within the program to help yourself, as well to help others around you. To find out more about my program, CLICK HERE.

 

We focused on helping your child thus far, but I challenge you to read through the tips above again.

This time be curious about how you can do more of these items for yourself.

 

Less doing, more being.

Talk things through to aid in coping with change.

Remember that challenges are our best teachers.

Trust in your own strength and resiliency.

Be curious about yourself, instead of judgmental.

 

Breathe it in. Let it sit in your soul. Own it. And notice what changes inside and out when you do.

Namaste,

Simone

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