Listening, talking and empathizing: How to help your child through homesickness at school

Back To School

Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – Parents—you know how hard it is to put your child on that school bus for the very first time.

But often times, the fear children feel in leaving their family for the first time can be just as gut-wrenching.

Some kids embrace the challenge of a new teacher, new friends, and what a new year’s curriculum has in store for them.

But others aren’t quite so sure about embracing the unfamiliar — and that first step into the classroom can be a frightening step away from the comforts of their family.

Children at a younger age don’t have an emotional literacy to say how they feel, they’ll respond more to how the parents feel.

Theresa Williams, Child counselor

Theresa Williams has a lifetime of experience making sure kids find success in school — not just through her position as a licensed counselor, but as a mother of three children.

She says much of the anxiety from the younger ones results from an inability to communicate their concerns.

Problems that adults can deal with quickly, like deciding what to wear or keeping track of a lunchbox, can be severe stresses for someone who’s never dealt with those responsibilities.

Williams says the key is to let your kids know that you’re aware of their feelings.

You know how hard it is them, acknowledge that, and if I had a magic wand, what could I do to make this better for you?

Theresa Williams, Child counselor

So what can you do right now to smooth out the often rough summer-to-school transition?

Williams says getting ready for bed at the same time every evening is the best place to start.

Even if you want to spend time with your kids after work, she recommends an 8 o’clock bedtime for kindergarteners.

That way they won’t wake up cranky or unwilling to start the day.

And bonus points if you can wrestle those electronics out of their hands.

The backlit screens can make falling asleep nearly impossible.

We tend to think that we’re laying in bed, looking at something, but it actually gets us a little bit, it doesn’t relax us, it gets us more curious and aroused.

Theresa Williams, Child counselor

Finally, open the lines of communication with their teachers.

In-person class means they can pick up emotional cues more easily.

Don’t be afraid to approach them with issues—Williams says school staff is just happy to do their job the way they used to.

We’re so excited this year that kids can return to school, have a normal start to the year, and fingers crossed we don’t have those interruptions.

Theresa Williams, Child counselor

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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