Calming First-Day-of-School Fears

Q: My 5-year-old son is nervous about his first day of school. How can we ease his jitters?

— Mark B.

Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D.

Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D.

A: If possible, visit the school with your child before that first day. Walk him through the halls and into a few classrooms — if you can meet the teacher, even better. Or take him to play a few times on the playground, so he has some fun experiences at the school before the big day.

Most important, be prepared for that first day of school. Lay out clothes and pack his lunch the night before so that you can be calm, collected and ready to calm his nerves that morning. Perhaps plan a special breakfast you know he will like.

Also, plan a special evening that night — perhaps his favorite dinner at home or an outing to his favorite restaurant. This will give him something to look forward to, make the milestone day more special, and give your family a great opportunity to talk about it.

— Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D., pediatric neuropsychologist at Children’s and professor of Psychology/Psychiatry at UT Southwestern.

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