When Mom Has Kindergarten Anxiety
The morning Dalia started her first full day of kindergarten, she was excited. I was excited. We said a quick goodbye at the door and off she went into her classroom.
Granted, she was already familiar with her school and surroundings from preschool. I knew that for many moms, kindergarten drop-off wasn't nearly as easy. There were tears…lots of them…and not shed by the kids, but by the moms.
Here are a few posts I read about the transition to kindergarten on Facebook that week:
- “I was holding back my tears until he got on the bus and then I lost it. I'm a complete mess.”
- “I haven't been able to sleep at night. I'm so worried about everything that could go wrong.”
- “I think he's ready for school, but I'm not. I don't want to lose my baby.”
- “I'm trying not to let on that I'm anxious, but I keep getting choked up every time I think about how fast she's growing up. Next thing I know she'll be going off to college!”
Can you relate?
It's normal to feel some sadness and anxiety. After all, your child is growing up fast. This may be the first time you've been separated from him for more than a couple of hours in a day. He'll be influenced by new adults and other kids that you've never
screened met, and you won't have control over every aspect of his day.
Your fear of the unknown will make you wonder: Is he eating? Is he making friends? Will he cry? Is he being polite? Will the teacher know how smart he is? Will the teacher be able to handle when he throws a tantrum? Harder still, you won't be there to witness in real-time all the new experiences he's having and the things he's learning.
Take a deep breath, mama. It's all going to be ok.
Tweet it out – It's not the circumstances, but our thoughts about the circumstances, that create our experience. @lessdramamama
Part of normal child development is being able to separate from primary caregivers and gain independence. It's a good thing! Let's look at those Facebook comments again and calm the anxiety by changing some of those thoughts about the start of kindergarten.
First, it’s normal to miss someone you’re usually with 24/7. You may suddenly feel you have too much time on your hands, or worry that as other people take on important roles in your child's life, you won't be as needed anymore.
As hard as it is, letting go is part of your growth process as a parent. Clinging to a child so he needs you more is not a healthy part of the program. Hal Runkel, author of Scream Free Parenting always says, “Kids need parents who don’t need them.” Rather than catastrophize that you’re a complete mess, acknowledge that you feel sad, lonely or empty. Then make time for self-care and create some structure for yourself throughout the day.
Second, if you're going to fantasize, start thinking about everything that can go right. Imagine your child getting off the bus and running into your arms. Imagine her telling you that she had an amazing day learning new things and making new friends. Keep in mind that even if she has some trouble adjusting, she's learning how to handle new situations and to trust that other adults can and will take care of her.
Third, the school year is here, so consider yourself ready. In some ways, you are losing your “baby” as he evolves into a school-aged kid. So while there may be a little bit of loss involved — of control, some aspects of innocence, or the routine you had, for example — there's so much more that is gained. Focus on all that you and your child are gaining from this new chapter in your lives: fresh experiences, new friends, education, greater awareness of the world, social interaction, more independence…
Finally, college is far-off, and kindergarten is one of many milestones along your child's path. Be present to enjoy and celebrate every step of the way.
The bottom line: When your kids pick up on your calm energy and enthusiastic attitude, it'll help them feel safer and more relaxed about their transition to school.
In the comments below, let me know how the kindergarten transition was for you. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
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