As the new school year begins, more than a few children are struggling with first day jitters. Some may go so far as to dig in their heels, refusing to even get on the bus when the dreaded day arrives, leading to escalating punishments and bribes from Mom and Dad.
One parent may threaten, "If you don't get on the bus this minute, young man, you're going to be grounded for a month!" while another offers cash if their youngster will just cooperate.
Some kids are simply playing their parents, hoping to delay the inevitable or make some pocket money by pitching a fit. But there are others who are genuinely terrified to step back onto the schoolyard after having endured an awful year at the hands of bullies. For children who have been the victims of taunting and teasing in the past, the thought of heading into another school year can be unbearable, regardless of Mom and Dad's well-meaning pep talks, or their promises that this year will be different.
If you have a child who is legitimately anxious about returning to school, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Encourage your child to avoid engaging with kids (crying, whining, pouting) if they bother him. Displays of weakness offer bullies the reaction they're looking for. The best first response is to simply walk away.
Give your child the chance to express her fears, work with the school to establish a strong No-Bullying policy, and empower your child so she feels safe at school, and those school jitters will become a thing of the past.
This article first appeared in Susan Stiffelman's AOL Advice Mama column.