Easing anxiety for that first day of school

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Excited and anxious — typically what students are feeling on the first day of school.

For kindergartners though, walking through the halls that first time, is an experience like no other.

“They don’t know what to expect, they don’t know if they’re going to like the teacher, who is going to be the teacher, how long the day is going to be.”

Dr. Yohanna Cifuentes is a licensed clinical social worker at Clifford Beers Clinic.

To help ease your little one through a change in routine — she says bring him or her to an orientation meeting or schedule a visit to meet the teacher and see the classroom.

If not — she says, “They can still come to the school, go to the playground. If they are driving them to school, they can do a couple of days where they can actually make believe they are going to school, where they are going to get off, and practice basically what the day is going to be like.”

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If your child is attending a new school this year — what could go wrong on that first day is a huge concern.

Dr. Cifuentes explains, “Am I going to be wearing the thing that everybody else is going to be wearing? Are they going to be looking at me? Am I going to fall the first day?”

She prescribes talking to them about possible solutions, “If the concern is peers, they can also role play with them as to how do you begin a conversation, how do you make new friends.”

That’s especially important for someone who tends to be shy.

For a freshman– that first day of high school– can be overwhelming.

Dr. Cifuentes says, “Communicating with peers, whether they are going to the same school or a different school can also be important so they can feel supported and they feel they are not alone and that they are not the only ones struggling with these emotions on the first day of school.”

Again — communication is key with students of all ages.

“Strategizing is really planning to make sure that things are going to go well, ” says Dr. Cifuentes, “And if you have a plan, you’re more likely to feel less anxious because you have a plan for all the things you think are going to go wrong that day.”

She also says that creating fun moments can also help ease the tension like — shopping for that backpack or for that outfit for the first day of school.

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