Updated: Dec 22, 2021
You have probably done most of the practical planning; new uniform, shoes, packed lunch box, bag, pencil case. Maybe a visit to the school. If that wasn't prohibited by covert restrictions. Poised with your phone ready for the back-to-school photo.
But what about the big emotions they're feeling?
Whether you loved school or hated it, you will have a collection of memories from school days.
These can affect how you feel when you think about your children at school.
We also consider their personality, their thoughts, and how they have been feeling about starting or returning to school.
This leads to a mixed bag for you and them in a normal year. But this year?
This year feels so much more complex with the added issues of Covid and the disruptions that that has caused.
How will you cope with your emotions and theirs. Luckily I wrote an article on how to deal with emotions SAFELY.
So that they can go into school feeling positive and ready to learn. So, they can grow socially, emotionally, and academically.
And you can concentrate on what you need to do during the school hours rather than worrying about how they are getting on.
So, we're going to look at four steps to help you manage those emotions on the first day back to school or before they go back to school.
1.Honesty is the Best Policy.
Let's be honest with our own emotions so that we can be honest with their emotions. It's no good trying to hide them from our children. They pick up on our emotions. They sense them, they can read our body language. They can read our facial expressions. Even if we put on that that mask, we might fool some other people, but we can't fool our children. They sense the anxiety in the air, so we must be honest with them. Otherwise, they are going to get confused and they gonna just get them mixed messages. Which will make them more anxious.
So just be straight saying, “Mummy is a little bit scared about you starting school, but I know it will be okay. I just feel scared because it's something new. I can feel my heart beating a bit fast. But we have met your teacher and we know where your classroom is, and we know where you will put your bag. So, it will all be okay.” And while you're trying to reassure your child you are talking yourself talking through and reassuring yourself too.
If you are feeling a little bit sad that your child is starting school or that they are moving to the new school. The big school. Or there's been another transition or change, that's perfectly normal as well. We can be honest about those emotions too.
We want to model to our children that there is no shame in our emotions. We are entitled to feel whatever we feel.
2. Open Communication.
Get your children used to talking about how they feel. Start conversations by admitting to things that scare you. “I get nervous meeting new people. I get a fluttery feeling in my tummy, and I feel thirsty. I worry I might not know what to do. But it always turns out okay. What do you feel scared of?”
For older children asking about school might not be fruitful. So, make sure to ask open questions such as “What are you most looking forward to when you go back to school?” Once you have a dialogue going, you can then ask if there is anything bothering them about returning.
If they have questions, obviously try to answer them as honestly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, write them down together. Some may be ‘What if…’ questions. These can’t be answered so don’t try to rationalise or answer them. Tell them that you can keep them on the list and check if it does happen. But for now they only need to think about ‘What is’.
If they are practical questions, it is your job then to find the answers. You may be able to ask friends, go online, ask the school, but try to find out. Then once you have them, be sure to let your child know. This helps them to trust you with their emotions again.
3. Normalise Emotions.
It’s new. Or at least it will feel new again, after the holidays. There will be changes, new people, new classes, new routines.
We humans like routines. We feel safe with sameness. Novelty throws us. We are intrigued but wary at the same time.
It’s hard to trust what you don’t know. So, it is going to feel scary. Everyone is going to be nervous (whether they admit it or not!).
The thing is…humans are also very adaptable. (Just think how quickly we took to wearing masks).
So, what is new one day, becomes old news the next.
It quickly becomes the regular routine.
The urgh ‘new normal’.
We start to feel safe in the sameness again.
The fear of the unknown only lasts until you get to know it!
Emotions can also be our ally. Did you know that we can use our emotions to strengthen our immunity? Click here to learn more.
4. Prevention is Better than Cure.
Therefore, if you get to know your emotions. Really know them. Teach your kids to know their emotions. And you all get more emotionally intelligent.
Then it is much less likely that the BIG emotions surprise you.
You just recognise them as old friends and welcome them back with a knowing smile.
If you would like to know how to get to know your emotions more fully come join us in the Good Enough Mum (GEM) Facebook group.