Creative Child

10 Tips for Parents Whose Children Are Attending to New Schools

by Deborah Song

Starting a new school can be scary, and what I’m going to say next is not that it doesn’t have to be. All significant change is intimidating for a child. Remember kids crave routine. Even if change doesn’t happen directly in your child’s life but happens to your child, those external changes can have profound effects on a child’s life as well.

When my oldest daughter’s best friend switched schools, she moped around for weeks and refused to play with anyone else. Meanwhile, her best friend visited the nurse’s office three times in two weeks and finally made the admission that she didn’t want to be in class because she had no friends. They reluctantly went to school wearing each other’s pictures in lock necklaces we made them. Her mom and I exchanged stories via text message through tears. We lived five miles apart. Melodramatic? Depends on the kid.

My youngest daughter was sad too when her best friend moved to China. But only for a day. I barely flinched because she barely flinched.

The effects of significant change vary from child to child and from move to move. The empowering part and constant in this equation is there’s actually a lot parents can do to make the change in their child’s life become a defining and empowering moment. Here are 10 ways to help our child have a successful transition to their new school or circumstance.

  1. Deal with guilt. Maybe you had to uproot for work or because of financial circumstances. It’s easy to feel guilty but your best is good enough. Besides, guilt makes you want to run from situations so holding onto it will only lessen your ability to confront challenges with your child.

  2. Acknowledge your child’s plight. Sometimes our best parental intentions to protect our kids end with belittling statements like, “You’ll be fine. Try not to think about it.” Parents often think that if we don’t give attention to our kids’ fears, they won’t either. Not true. Repressing fears don’t make them go away. Acknowledge that what your child is facing or will face is a legitimate challenge. Then reassure him he is not alone and that bravery is acting in spite of fear.

  3. Be patient. You might find kids are withdrawn, more sensitive, not doing as well in school, being uncooperative,” says Suzy Martyn, founder of Mother's Friend. This may prove very frustrating. But try to remember this will pass with time. Make the appropriate allowances for this transition period and have realistic expectations.
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