Deep breaths……it’s nearly the end of the summer and, for some of us, the beginning of a new chapter…
No-one can deny, whether it’s your first child or your fourth, your little one going off to primary school is a big milestone. It’s also likely that even the parents of the most confident child may have a few concerns about how they will settle into school following a disrupted and locked-down nursery year.
In the first of my starting-school preparation articles, we’re here to think about your own thoughts and feelings about how they will get on later this August (for our readers in Scotland) or September (for the English contingent).
EEK! It’s a spider!
Picture the scene… You’re terrified of spiders, you’ve just spotted one in the living room, and it’s scuttling across the floor towards you!
You loudly yelp, jump up on the sofa (spilling your much needed cup of coffee all over yourself!), and proceed to cower in the furthest away corner of the couch with a petrified look on your face.
Your little one hears the commotion and comes to see what’s going on.
“What is it, Mummy…?”
You don’t want them to become scared of spiders too, so you tell them that you’re fine, there’s nothing to worry about, spiders aren’t scary, and they can’t hurt him.
BUT…what is he likely to take from that situation? Next time he sees a spider what do you think that he’s most likely to remember? The words? Or the non-verbal communication?
Now, I’m not here to trigger parent-guilt in those of you with a spider phobia (and remember, this is a pretty extreme example!) but I am here to draw attention to your own feelings when you think about them starting school, because perhaps stronger emotional responses could spill over into your behaviour, tone of voice, and facial expression when you talk about school.
So, first steps before we even get onto having more direct dialogue with your child and responding to any of their worries about starting school, take an honest look at your own.
And from this place…remember that anxiety is a normal emotion that helps us survive when we are in danger, but that you don’t need it at this time and that you can decide to calm down and manage your stress instead. I would highly recommend a taking a look at a relaxed breathing exercise as this is a really quick and effective way to reduce the physical feelings of anxiety and stress. You will find that there is information about some wonderful ‘belly breathing’ techniques widely available online.
If you’re interested in some of the next steps you can find my story for children who are starting school here: https://www.thegreatbritishbookshop.co.uk/products/mairi-moo-is-starting-school