Written By: Erika DeSchiffart, a psychotherapist with Capital Choice Counselling Group.
September can be a time of chaos and routine, with usually the chaos preceding the new routine. This is normal, especially as summer tends to be less scheduled and more laid back. Yet, do you find your child is still dragging their feet in the morning, resulting in frustration for you? Do you feel your child is having a difficult time adjusting to the new schedule? Here are some tips for helping your child to look forward to going to school, and reducing the stress for both you and him/her.
1) Get a good night’s rest: The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. When your child is operating on a lack of sleep, they will be more irritable, have less patience, have difficulty concentrating, and have trouble with memory, just to name a few. To help your child get a good night’s rest, routine is important to help them wind down at night. Some even find it helpful to set an alarm at night, rather than in the morning, to indicate when it is time to begin the nighttime routine. Maybe they will pick out their clothes for the next day, pack their lunch, brush their teeth, and end with story. Maybe your child would like to incorporate a hug into their nighttime routine or a one on one chat time. Plan some incentives into the routine to help your child want to go to sleep.
2) Goodbyes and Hellos are Important: If you find that your child is prolonging the goodbye, take the time when you are not rushed to find out what that might be about. Listening to your child’s fears (no matter how silly they might seem) is the best way to re-assure them and to help them move forward. Maybe they are having difficulty seeing the board, or making friends, or having difficulties with their teacher. Dr. Laura Markham in her blog gives a great goodbye ritual that can re-assure your child, by saying “I love you, you love me, have a great day, and I”ll see you at 3!”. This leads into the hello: making sure you are on time, at least in the first week or two if you are picking up your child, can be a great help for establishing routines. Greeting your child with excitement or love helps send the message to them that they are important and loved, and that this will not change no matter what the routine is.
3) Facilitating bonding with the teacher: Work together with your teacher, as so many teachers desire to be more connected with parents. Again, Dr. Laura Markham gives a great suggestion for how to contact the teacher, just explain that your child is having difficulty settling in, and whether or not there is anything that the teacher can do to help your child feel like they belong, whether it is a task to do, or to make sure they are greeted. Be open to suggestions from the teacher as well as to what you can do to further facilitate your child getting into going to school.
Every new routine takes some getting used to, and with a few of these tips down pat, soon both you and your child can be enjoying these times together before and after school. If you feel that having the conversations with your child about what is causing them to dread going to school is not helping, maybe it is time to consider consulting a therapist who specializes in parenting and family therapy. To book an appointment with one, you can call Capital Choice Counselling group at 613-425-4257 or book an appointment using the search tool here.