Health & Family

Don't let kids know you're anxious

Q: "It's not my child who is anxious about going to kindergarten: It's me. Some of my friends feel the same way. How do we avoid having our children pick up on our anxiety?"

Atlanta mother

Fess up: Were you in this crowd on Monday?

“Just about everybody I know follows the bus the first day to see their children safely arrive at school,” says a mother of three young boys in Huntersville. “I guess that qualifies as anxious.”

Your children don't need to know you're uneasy – it will add to their anxiety. They need to feel confident about themselves and their parents – even the family pets.

“I don't think I exhaled the entire first day of kindergarten last year,” one Davidson mother recalls. “But despite my anxiety, I did everything I could to encourage my daughter. We spent most of the summer talking about how fun school would be, how many new friends she'd make and how much she was going to learn.”

The mother says it's important for parents to be aware of what they say, because kids will absorb even the slightest comments.

“When my daughter overheard me talking to a friend on the phone about how long the kindergarten school day was, she started saying, ‘It's an awfully long day.'”

To reduce your own anxiety, be matter-of-fact and let your child know you're going to be happy and busy and he will, too.

“Try not to discuss how much you'll miss him but just how happy you'll be that he's on this new adventure,” one mother said. “And then go home and cry if you need to, but do not let the child see you.”

Back-to-school tip: A mother in Mooresville says anxiety stays at bay in her home thanks to communication and organization. She hangs an over-the-door shoe hanger with clear pockets in the closet near the table where her daughter does homework. It has pencils, sharpener, hole punch, erasers, scissors, stapler, glue sticks and markers so they are visible and within easy reach. A calendar to record homework and projects hangs on the other closet door.