The first days of school can be filled with anxiety for young children, but also for parents as they see one chapter end and another begin. Parents want their children to succeed, particularly as they begin preschool or kindergarten, and often are apprehensive or anxious about how their children will do. Margret Nickels, director of the Center for Children and Families at Erikson Institute, says parents should be mindful that their feelings are the bridge to the new situation their child is facing. Children take cues from parents about what is safe and not safe. Early childhood research calls this “social referencing,” she says.
“Children respond to our faces, gestures and body postures like drivers to traffic signs,” she says. “Smiles, relaxed posture and a calm voice mean ‘go’. Tension and distractedness mean ‘caution’.
Her advice for parents? Manage your stress by: