PARENTS! FREE Back to School Fears Teleseminar Wednesday Night 8/26

Dr. Robyn Silverman

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FREE “How to Help Your Children Deal with Their Back to School Fears” Teleseminar!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Good morning powerful parents!

After I was interviewed as the parenting expert for Education.com on How to Deal with Back to School Fears in Children and related articles, I was contacted my several parents who wanted to know more.  They were having many issues and concerns with how their children handled “newness,” especially the transition to school.

So I’m offering a special FREE Parenting Tele-Seminar TOMORROW for all Powerful Parents on Back to School Fears and Dealing with New Situations.

The Teleseminar will take place on THIS COMING WEDNESDAY, August 26th at 8pm EASTERN, 7pm CENTRAL, 6pm MOUNTAIN, and 5pm PACIFIC.

There are a limited number of lines—and only a few left now that we are closer to the date.  Please sign up now to be part of this FREE event!

We will be going over several concerns and questions including:

  • What are some typical fears that children will be dealing with when going back to school?
  • How would parents know if their children are really having a problem?
  • What specific action steps can parents to take to help their children cope?
  • What would cause a child to exclaim “I’m never going back!”
  • What big mistakes can parents make in these situations?

And other questions too!

Looking forward to hearing you on the teleseminar! Sign up here!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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Separation Anxiety: Guidelines to Say Goodbye to Clingy Kids?

Separation anxiety for back to school?

Separation anxiety for back to school?

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’m sure you hear a lot about separation anxiety around back to school time. It’s only July and I’m already dreading “back to school” because my child will be going to kindergarten.  With my first child, we had quite a time with getting him comfortable enough to go into his classroom and leave my side for a lot of the school year.  He’s what you call a “clingy kid.” Well, I wound up staying for way longer than I should. I’m sure I made some mistakes and I know this is classic separation anxiety.  Can you give me a quick was to say good-bye that we  can follow so we don’t make the same mistakes twice?

–Laura, Mom of Max and Julia, New Brunswick NJ

Thanks for your question, Laura!

I actually spoke about this with Parents Magazine in the July 2008 issue.  Separation anxiety is seen in many children to varying degrees.  It can come in the form of crying, whining, clinging, following, silence, withdrawal, or hiding behind a parent.

First, remember, that your daughter is not your son.  She may respond completely differently than you other child did in the same circumstance.  In this case, it’s important not to generalize and “pre-label” your daughter!

Second, there are some things you can do before school that can ease the transition.  Typically the problem of separation anxiety on the first days of school are two-fold—your child is uncomfortable being separated by you but she is also uncomfortable about what’s unfamiliar to her as well.

You can do something about that. Allow her to see her classroom, meet the teacher, and connect with some classmates before the first day of school.  Play in the school playground, walk the halls, and meet the principal.  Essentially, make the unfamiliar, familiar.  I talk more about these kinds of tips in my interview with www.education.com. I will notify our powerful parents when the articles come out.  In addition, I will be doing some tele-seminars on easing the transition back to school which I will let you know about shortly.

In addition, September’s Powerful Word of the month is courage– so get a jump on talking about courage in your household! Your Powerful Words school will help support these messages of courage as the instructors go through September’s Powerful Words curriculum.

Finally, if you are looking for a way to say good-bye without all the drama, please follow my ABCDE Goodbye Plan.  It’s simple and easy to remember—even though it’s sometimes hard to do!

Dr. Robyn Silverman’s ABCDE Goodbye to Separation Anxiety Plan:

(1) Be Affectionate—give a hug and a kiss, tell him how much you love him/her

(2) Be Brief– don’t linger because that will increase signs of separation anxiety

(3) Be Clear that you will be back and if you can, you can even tell them when (after the last school bell, when the clock says 3pm)

(4) Be Directive– “Go show your teacher what you brought from home!” “There’s your new friend, Emma—go say hello!” This gives your child something specific to do, gets her mind off the impending separation, and connects her with someone else in the room.

(5) And perhaps most importantly, EXIT. This doesn’t mean sneak out. You’ve said your goodbyes—wave- smile—and leave. Prolonging the inevitable makes the process harder for everyone.

In the mean time, you still have much of the summer to enjoy.  Talk positively about school and all the great things she will be able to do there.  And for your own sanity, talk positively to yourself—we all know the separation can be as hard on the parents as it is on the kids!

Best regards,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Back-To-School Tears, Fears and Cheers

Dr. Robyn with her best friend, Randi (still!) and a neighborhood boy, Todd, on the first day of school.

Dr. Robyn with her best friend, Randi (still!) and a neighborhood boy, Todd, on the first day of school.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL TEARS, FEARS and CHEERS
The Crucial Dos and Don’ts of Helping Your Child Cope with New Situations Like School
Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

My nieces and nephews all went back to school today. So it got me thinking. Do you remember your first day of school?

I do…

It was the first September after I turned 5 years old. Every child’s right of passage. New school. New teacher. New everything.

I was holding my Mom’s hand tightly. With 2 hands. You know the feeling; my brain wanted to leap forward but my body wanted to hide behind my Mommy at the same time.

We strolled together across the parking lot towards Mt. Pleasant Elementary School in West Orange, NJ with my brother, Scott, who was returning for his third grade year and Marc, who was going to be a big-league 6th grader. As Mrs. Wong’s Kindergarten classroom loomed ahead, I recall asking Scott a string of questions; “What’s going to happen in there? Will I know anybody? If I don’t like it, can I come to your class instead?” Mom squeezed my hand. I saw it as a sign of reassurance but found out not too long ago that it was coupled with her own disbelief that I was really old enough to enter kindergarten. I was her youngest and her little girl. Perhaps you can relate.

New situations, like going to school, are typically anxiety provoking. It’s normal. After all, they’re filled with unfamiliar people, unfamiliar things, and unfamiliar activities. Such changes can bring on both tears and fears … not just for the child but for parents too!

So before I leap into tips that can help your child feel more comfortable in new situations, it’s necessary to subside our own fears first. Take a breath. Talk to a more experienced friend, partner, or parent. Remain calm and avoid falling into the role of overprotective “Helicopter Parent.”

Here’s the bottom line: If you feel worried about leaving your child in a new situation, your child will likely sense these fears and become even more upset.

Once you feel confident and ready, your child will be more likely to follow suit. So here are some tips to help ease your child’s transition into new environments:

DOS

1. Let your children know that it’s normal to be nervous when going somewhere new and that many of the other children are likely feeling the same way. You can even share your own experiences of when you were scared and how once you met people; you had a good time and weren’t scared anymore.

2. Integrate “courageous” language into your family: Talk about ways that people in your family, including your children, are brave each day.

3. Keep your children informed about the schedule for the week. You can remind them about what will be happening the next day so that they can prepare themselves mentally and physically. Make sure that your children have everything they will need for the following day, so that they are ready and calm when the next day rolls around.

4. Ask your children about how they feel: Be open to talking about both the excitement and the concerns they are feeling in light of these new environments. Sometimes just listening can help these fears subside.

5. Point out the positive aspects of trying new things and being in new places. Remind your children of how wonderful it is to meet new friends, participate in new activities, and make new memories. Bring up old friends and activities that they enjoy now but that were once new and scary to them.

6. Let your children know that you are thinking of them when they are in their new environments. Leave a note in their notebooks, book-bags, or lunchboxes, that will remind them that you’re proud of them and know that they’ll do great.

7. Try to arrange for your children to meet a classmate or two before school starts so that they know someone when starting something new. To help foster friendships, don’t rush in and out. It’s a good idea to allow children some time before and after class to talk with other classmates so that they can make friends.

8. Talk to your children’s teachers when your children feel especially nervous. A good teacher can help fearful children by linking them with friendly, outgoing buddies or simply by supporting and encouraging them.

DON’TS

9. Don’t be late! One sure fire way to raise the anxiety levels of children when starting something new is to run late. Children should feel relaxed and unrushed so that they can get their bearings and prepare for class. Being a little bit early will allow your children some time to talk to new friends and to the teacher.

10. Don’t compare: It is best to avoid comparing your child to more outgoing siblings or friends in an effort to encourage him or her to be more like them. This is not only unhelpful but it can make a child feel like s/he can’t measure up.

11. Don’t dismiss your children’s fears: Using statements like “Don’t be silly; there’s nothing to be afraid of” only frustrates children because their fears are not being validated. Rather, offer support by statements such as “I know you’re feeling nervous but you’re the kind of person that everyone likes once they get to know you. I know you can do it!”

12. Don’t tease them: Telling children that they are “acting like babies” or that “big kids aren’t scared” doesn’t help to address fears. It just makes them feel bad.

13. Don’t avoid it: This will only prolong the inevitable. It is best to help children to deal with their fears head on so that their fears subside. What will help them to feel more at ease?

Finally, don’t quit. Take it one step at a time. Congratulate your child (and yourself!) for each small step taken. Even though it may take some time, encourage your children to persevere! Let them know that they have your support no matter how long it takes. With your help, fears and tears will become cheers. Their anxieties will subside, and in time, so will yours!

How are you feeling about the start of school? What was your child’s first day or school like? What great tips do you have for parents shuttling their children to school for the first time?

Your comments are appreciated and valued! Please comment below now!

Have a Powerful Weekend!

Same as it never was

There’s something about coming home. I’m currently in NJ where I grew up and yet, I’m not really where I once was. Since my Dad passed away way too early and entirely too suddenly in 2006 from liver cancer, my Mom has since moved out of the house where I spent my entire childhood and moved into what I think can only be described as a college dorm of 55 and olders. Yes, the sticky floors and keg parties have been replaced with lovely apartments and games of cards, but still, my Mom lives steps from many of her best friends who get together nearly everyday.

These friends, all who seem familiar and yet many whom I had never met– appear to thankfully absorb some of the pain of loss and help to create new, fun memories for this now much more independent woman. I admit, I miss my old house– the memories– the way things were– but even if we were there, things wouldn’t be the same, would they? And my Mom wouldn’t be finding this new “life” in her life.

When I was a teenager, whenever I returned home from camp, or later, from college, I marveled about what was different. The bathroom countertop always seemed shorter, somehow, my reflection just a little bit older, and my room just a little bit smaller.

Now I look for what’s the same. It’s comforting to see the same restaurants, the same people, and the same stores. It’s challenging to rely on “sameness” though, isn’t it? It’s almost unfair. We change and yet, expect things to stay the same. Sameness gives us a marker of progress, a feeling of comfort, and something to depend on.

As the children go back to school in many areas of the world, and many tears are shed (mostly by the parents who are stunned that time has flown by) how can we welcome change when we rely on sameness?

  1. Talk about the good times but don’t dwell on the past: It’s often fun to meet up with old friends, talk about old times, and relive the memories. However, living in the past is both dangerous and impractical.
  2. Look for the good in change: While change can be unsettling for anyone– whether we’re talking about a child or a parent–it’s vital that we identify what benefits have made themselves known due to this change. There’s a reason cliches like “every cloud has a silver lining” exist.
  3. Don’t make “better/worse” comparisons: When we talk about what was better in the past, especially when it comes to things we can not change, we are setting ourselves up to feeling bad. Yes, things may be different, and yes, you might want to improve your current circumstances, but that should urge you to look forward rather than back!
  4. Tame your fears about change: Change doesn’t need to be negative. Change can be quite wonderful. We all have fears that tell us to hold onto the status quo. But often, the most wonderful things happen when we’re willing to take a risk and embrace the future.

Remember– the way you look at change is going to influence the way your children approach it.

Here’s to growing up and smiling at what’s to come-