Family Health

The ABCs of Easing Kindergarten Anxiety

Published: July 30, 2018

The first day of school is just around the corner. And while some kids (and parents) are looking forward to heading back to class, others are feeling anxious about what lies ahead – especially students headed to their first year of school.

A big year!

Kindergarten represents a big step for kids. (And let’s face it; for parents, too!) Following a few simple steps can help ease the stress little ones feel.

Before school starts

  1. Involve children in the preparation. Take them shopping and let them pick out school supplies. 
  2. Meet the teacher and see their new classroom. If there's an opportunity to meet the teacher and tour the school and classroom ahead of time, take advantage of that. 
  3. Talk about school. Have lots of conversations about what to expect in kindergarten, and answer any questions or concerns.

On the first day

  1. Set behavior expectations. It's important to send a clear message that no amount of crying or fussing is going to get children out of school. It sounds tough, but it will be beneficial to them and you for that transition. Remind them to be respectful and listen to their teacher, and kind when meeting any new friends.
  2. Don’t stick around. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet. If you have a tendency to linger, especially on that first day, it can reinforce tearful behavior in your child and make the transition more difficult. 
  3. Say goodbye. I always tell parents it's important to say goodbye. If you’re trying to get your kids to trust kindergarten and you, sneaking away from them could dissolve that trust – probably not the best idea. 
  4. NO CRYING! (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad.) Keeping a happy, positive attitude is really important. Children are perceptive, and if they see Mom or Dad crying and upset, they start to wonder, “Is there is something I should be scared of with kindergarten?” It can just make that process more difficult for them. If you need to shed a few emotional tears, do it after you leave.

Have no fear …

If your child is tearful at kindergarten drop-off, have faith. Many teachers tell me it’s not uncommon for children to “put on a show” for Mom and Dad and then become happy and accepting the moment parents are out of sight. 

If you have concerns about your child’s behavior in kindergarten or readiness, speak with a teacher, school counselor or Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician to make sure your child is on the path to school success.

More resources

About the Author

Pediatrician Dr. Emily Bendlin has always had a passion for working with kids and parents.

Not one to steer clear of difficult cases, she wakes up every morning ready to take on new challenges that await her at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

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