Calm Your Child's First Day Doubts

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on August 12, 2019

When I was in school, the first day back was always stressful. I didn’t even know that it was called “stress” at that time, but when I think back about the sleepless nights I always had prior to the first day, I am glad those days are behind me.

Anxious feelings are normal—even expected—during times of transition.

But actually those anxious feelings are completely normal and even expected during a time of transition.

Carilion Clinic's Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department works with parents and kids who find life transitions challenging. They recommend that parents watch for:

  • Difficulty sleeping or interrupted sleeping patterns
  • Nightmares
  • Expressing fears about things that didn't bother them before

Carilion Clinic pediatric psychologist Tara Mitchell, Ph.D., spoke with WSLS about how to calm your child's first-day fears.

As you help your child prepare for a new school year, the most important thing is to be understanding and help your child deal with his fear of the unknown.

Try a few of these strategies from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to calm those first-day fears:

  • Let your child know that he is probably not the only one who is nervous, and that teachers will make an extra effort to make sure everyone is comfortable.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school, such as seeing old friends and meeting new ones
  • Use the buddy system so your child has a peer to walk or ride the bus with safely

The AAP also has a first day of school checklist that includes information ranging from developing good homework and study habits to dealing with bullying. 

With these tips, your child can have a great first day—and a great school year.