Here are my biggest takeaways from my chat with Jacquie from The Brave Space (you can watch our chat right here) about how we can best support our kids when they're feeling anxious or nervous about school/kindy/day care.
Jacquie is a Post-grad Psychology student and certified ABA and Play Therapist. When she’s not being Mum to her two busy boys, she works as a Therapist for kids on the Autism Spectrum and in support roles within Sutherland Hospital School and a school for children with emotional disturbances. She is passionate about young children’s wellbeing and has a special interest in anxiety in children.
Here they are:
Listen. Just listen.
Allow you child to talk about what they are feeling without telling them that everything is ok and that they don’t have to worry.
Just sit there and listen to what they are saying.
Easier said than done, I know...but for a moment, picture yourself in their shoes. If you’re feeling worried about something and a loved one tells you not to worry or to not think/feel that way, how does that make you feel?
I imagine, most of the time, it feels like a shut down. Even though that person is coming from a place of love and they’re trying to be helpful.
Let them talk about those feelings; ask them what it feels like in their body, where they feel it, gentle questions that allow them to explore these feelings without judgement and without us trying to fix everything for them.
They’re heading off to a new place with lots of new people; it’s totally natural to feel a bit nervous.
Be mindful not to project our own worries and thoughts about them heading off to school/kindy etc onto them.
This is a massive transition time for us parents too, sometimes even more so if we are taken back to not so fond memories of our own time at school.
Notice whether the questions your child’s asking about school are because they are nervous or because they are curious.
Kids are curious beings and they like to ask a lot of questions, most of which are just them sprouting off whatever thought pops into their mind. So if they ask things like:
“when will I know when it’s time for lunch?” or “where will I know where to go?”
Then answer them matter of factly, don't make a big deal of it, if they aren't.
Books and resources
We actually forget to cover all of this during out chat.
There are amazing resources out there to help with these tricky transition times. Check out Casey Patch at Little Life Long Learners - she has a whole range of resources and cheap or even free printouts that can help with routine, showing them how the day will flow, graphics on how to explain social situations.
Seriously! Casey is an absolute guru!
Books like the “When I’m feeling” range by Trace Moroney are fantastic for helping your child explore their emotions.
For any parent wanting to read up on strategies for nurturing your child’s developing mind, I highly recommend “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.
Dr. Justin Coulson from Happy Families is another favourite of mine
Encourage your child to use their intuition and teach them how to be mindful of their emotions.
Kids are super intuitive.
They actual live in a theta brainwave state (the state we adults are in just as we are drifting off to sleep) until around the age of 7, which is a super learning state and where they are open to suggestion so this is where they form a lot of the subconscious belief about the world and their place in it.
By asking them to listen to their body. Getting them to tune into the feelings they get in certain situations, by explaining to them those feelings we are showing them how to listen to their intuition. The haven’t been “programmed” to go against it yet, they live very much in that state so it’s a wonderful time to encourage them to embrace it and to learn from it.
A fun little test that we talked about was to take your child into a crystal shop and ask them to pick their own – you’ll be amazed at what they pick when you read about what that crystal does.
Have something that acts as a “circuit breaker” (as Jac so brilliantly puts it).
Something tangible that causes them to STOP when they start to get worked up.
It interrupts our thought process, bring us back to the present where we can reminds ourselves:
“I am safe. I am brave. I am loved.”
It’s a tangible tool for them to use, something that smells delicious, looks fun and that helps them actually feel brave.
An oil blend (like our brave oil) that is all theirs.
That they can smell, look at and apply to their body when they’re feeling nervous or anxious and that helps them to feel in control of the situation.
Combine the oil blend with a crystal and some slow, deep breaths - right into the belly, not the shoulders and lungs - and they will love it!
Healing properties of crystals and oils.
Both have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years to help with everything from infection and disease, spiritual connections, the warding of negative energies to the management of emotions and behaviours.
Us humans are a mix of vibrations that can be so easy thrown out of whack by our internal and external environments.
Crystals, on the other hand, are incredible at holding and emitting strong and steady vibrations to help us feel balanced.
Essential oils reach the brain within 22 seconds and within 2 minutes they are in the bloodstream, so not only are they wonderful at helping calm big emotions, they are super fast at it too.
Keep it simple.
Lower your expectations of your child during the first few weeks/month as they adjust.
Try not to overload their schedules with too many activities. They are going to be out of sorts and absolutely knackered.
Try and have some of their favourite dinners on rotation, have a good routine at home so they feel safe in that structure and know what’s going on.
Spend “time in” before bed. An extra book or longer cuddles. Fill their love cups right up so they feel secure.
It’s ok to ask for help
If you have serious concerns about your child emotional well-being, speaks to their teacher and the school.
Also, this may not be at all relevant for your child starting school, they might be keen beans ready and raring to go only to “get over it” a couple of weeks/terms in. In which case you can use these tricks and tips then.
Also, don’t forget to follow your own gut instincts – if something doesn’t feel right – say something, speak to someone. There are so many resources available to you.
And lastly, get them involved!
Let them play with their shoes and try on their uniform.
Get them in the kitchen cooking snacks and practice packing their lunch boxes.
Talk to them about what happens at school, how the days run.
Know that you are as kick-arse mum/dad/guardian who is doing the absolute best you can. You’ve got this!!
And that's a wrap...I really hope you got a lot out of this and that it helps you and your littles to transition more smoothly.
To make things even easier, here's a cheeky 10% off the purchase of both kids and adults (because let's face it...we need it too) brave oil. Just use the code BTS10 at the check out.
Good luck, go easy on yourself (and your minis) and lots of love