Your child or teen may be changing schools because they are a year older and it's time for middle or high school. But they also may be changing schools because you changed your residence and school district. They might be going to a new school nearby or even in another state. This can all certainly raise anxiety. It's a parent's job to help smooth the passage.
5 Parenting Tips on Helping Kids Cope with a New School
1.If your child is entering kindergarten, middle school or high school in the town they're accustomed to, you can make sure they know a few friends who will be going there, too. Ask them if they want you to invite them over or if they're teens, suggest some texting. Help them become familiar with the kids at the new school.
2.Visit the school. No matter how old or seasoned your young student is, it always helps to check out their new environment. They may get to walk the halls or meet a teacher or see the cafeteria. Whatever makes them feel most familiar is on the right track for helping them cope.
3.If, however, your child is moving with you to a new residence because of various reasons, this is a bigger step, but it doesn't need to be a calamity. It's hard being the new kid, but it also has it's perks. Try to move into your residence before school starts so the child or teen is familiar with the neighborhood as well as the school. Remind them that kids in all schools come in all shapes and sizes, some smarter than others, some more social than others just like it was in their old school. Reassure them although it doesn't seem so sure right now, they will find their niche and have a sense of belonging. Being a new kid means, others want to know you, so you may find friends seek you out and you don't have to do all the reaching out yourself.
4.It's hard for kids to believe it but a new school is an opportunity to reveal yourself in any new ways you wish. If you are in a new geographic area, you can continue as you are and also have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. You can try new things, wear new things, be more or less outspoken than before. The challenges are many but so are the new prospects.
5.Remember to listen carefully to your child's worries so you can quell the unrealistic ones and help them think about managing the realistic ones. Listening takes endurance on the parent's part before offering easy reassurances and solutions. Be a sounding board, allow tears to be shed, discuss missing the people you've left and how to stay in contact with them. Don't slough off your child's concerns. Take them as seriously as they do, so they know they can continue to confide in you as the first weeks of school begin.
Parenting is a difficult job at best when not only your child but you are adjusting to a new residence, maybe a new job, feeling how you miss your old friends and neighbors. But the kids have to come first. Reassuring them might be a way to stretch yourself to reassure yourself as well. If your kids see you coping in an upbeat way they will absorb that manner which will help them believe in you and themselves.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.