Overcoming First-Day Jitters
How to help your child through the first day of school.
Find out why your child is fearful, then work at reassurance,
she tells WebMD. "A lot of times, children don't really know what the
problem is -- until you ask enough questions. Then they'll tell you something
-- they're scared mom won't be there when they get out of school, scared to
walk home, afraid kids will make fun of them.
"For most kids, the first day is anxiety provoking,"
Ross says. "They will act out, will cry. Most kids by the second day are
However, "if a couple of weeks pass, and the kid is
refusing to go at all -- or coming home every day with stomachaches, headaches
-- or is at the school nurse's office wanting to go home -- then you need to do
something," she says. It could be signs of an emotional problem.
She recommends talking to a pediatrician or to a mental health
professional. "Sometimes we find out that there's a bully in class or that
the teacher yelled at him and no one else," says Ross. "If there seems
to be no known cause -- but the child is having nightmares and not sleeping --
that could be sign of anxiety disorder, if it's really interfering with normal
And what if there is a bully in class? What should you and your
"Most kids aren't going to tell their parents they're being
bullied -- not unless a good line of communication has been set up at an early
age," says Elizabeth Carll, PhD, a family psychologist in Long Island, N.Y.
She is the author of the book, Violence in Our Lives.
"Let kids know that if something is happening at school,
something they're uncomfortable with, that they can tell you," Carll says.
If there is a bully, try not to get upset. "At that point, your child sees
himself as weak and victimized. He's afraid you wonder how he let it
Then, take action and report the bullying to the school.
"It's important to go to the school and tell them that kind of behavior
won't be tolerated," she says. "A school needs to have a policy in
place and will only do it when people come forward. That's the only way
bullying will stop."