Have you ever been the new girl? Or the new boy? Ever started a new job? Remember the night before – the night where you toss and turn all night unable to sleep, a mixture of feelings keeping you awake – excitement, nerves, anticipation. Even though you know what you’ll be doing, what role you’ll be undertaking, what tasks will be expected. Have you ever got up in the morning and put on the carefully selected clothes laid out the previous evening so as not to have to iron in the morning, or stress yourself out with another decision needing to be made. Have you picked up your easy lunch, one you’ll eat at your desk just in case the other people you’re working with aren’t that friendly, or you don’t want to negotiate your way down to the works canteen. Have you ever driven to work with your tummy trembling, wondering just for that split second whether this was all worth it? I mean surely the old job wasn’t that bad after all – and it certainly would be preferable to this stomach churning sickness you’re feeling right now. Have you ever arrived at your new job, stepped into he office to be greeted by a barrage of people, who’s names you fear you’ll never remember, with no idea how you’ll ever find your way around all of the offices which now seem like some sort of rabbit warren, worried that you’ll never find your way out home let alone your way to the toilet without having to ask for an escort! Have you worried that all day you seem to be bothering busy people with questions they must have answered a zillion times, where the photocopier is, where the staffroom is, what the log in details for different programmes are, where the stationary is kept, what the phone numbers and fax numbers are… the list is endless. Have you ever worried you’ll never get your head around the new expectations, the new job role and thought in your less confident moments that people must be wondering why on earth they ever employed you! Have you got to the end of the day to feel a wave of relief flooding over you, so glad you can escape back to your life as you know it, where you are comfortable and in control. So many of us have been there. So many of us have got to the end of the week and collapsed into bed mentally exhausted, drained and so ready for the huge glass of wine, takeaway and bath that will make us feel so much better. Because as adult, we know how to calm ourselves down. After a tough week, we know the strategies that will make us feel more relaxed, more calm and more like ourselves again.
Spare a thought then for your children. Especially all those little ones starting school this September, because if we as adults feel like that, guess what? Our children too will feel like that. The difference is, is that they have not yet developed the self help skills they need in order to be able to calm themselves down and take care of their mental well-being at the end of a mentally exhausting week.
As our little ones start school, every year we have parents come and say, ‘oh they’ll be fine, they’ve been in nursery since they were 6 months old they’re used to doing all day.’ We also have parents who are cross at the ‘unnecessarily long,’ settling in period which many schools employ allowing children to attend half a day for two weeks. We have parents who are keen for their little ones to be in school all day from as soon as possible because ‘they’ll be fine, they’re used to it, they’re a good settler. The list is endless. And yes, whilst your little one may be great at settling. They may be ‘used to being left full time,’ they may be ‘used to going to nursery.’ They are not used to this new setting. And similarly to you starting a new job, they too are starting a new job. With new rules, expectations, learning curves, friendships to make, boundaries to adhere to, new resources, new staff, new clothing, new dinner rules, new everything. And if we as grown ups struggle with that, you can be sure that on some level, your child will also struggle with that. They may not have the language yet to express their feelings, their worries, their concerns, they may not even be able to process and understand the feelings they are feeling and equate it to starting school. You may find that what you see at home is defiant behaviour, whingy clingy behaviour, emotional outbursts, temper tantrums, need for constant reassurance. All of these things suggest your child could be struggling with feelings they can’t yet express verbally.
So give them time. Give them the gift of grace. Be more patient in the run up to starting school and in the coming half term. Make sure you reassure your child with love, hugs and cuddles. Instead of becoming short tempered and angry at another emotional outburst, try saying, ‘I can see you are cross/angry/upset/frustrated about something what can I do to help you with this?’ Recognise that over the next couple of months, from September onwards your child needs you to be their constant and to help them to identify the things that will make them feel better after a mentally draining day at school.
We have all been the new kid, we’ve all battled through first days, first weeks, first months. We all know how hard it can be mentally. So lets not hold our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can achieve ourselves. Let’s allow them to be the new kid, with all the emotions and feelings that come with this. Let’s help them to find their way during this, ’first,’ for them and let’s help them to navigate this tricky step with a hand to hold. Not a hand that expects them ‘to be fine.’
If you’d like to learn more about how to help your child as they start school both emotionally and academically, sign up to one of our courses either online or face to face. Next one is 16.06.18 10:00am – 11:30am in West Derby Millennium Centre, Liverpool L12 5EA
For more information visit our website www.beautifulnewbeginnings.co.uk