SCHOOL DROP OFF
Support in Morning School Transition
It is a big adjustment from home life to school life, I thought it would be helpful to go over some ways to best support your children when returning to school after some time away or just normal drop off before and during dropoff time.
The Day/Night before School Return
The night before, begin talking to them about school. Remind them of the schedule, their friends, the play space, etc. Then again in the morning, on their way to school, talk to them about the day, drop off, playing, etc. Do more of the talking than asking questions. Help paint a picture for them so these images accompanied by your soothing tone begin to plant a sensation of comfort and excitement for what is to come.
Chat with them again about school and how the drop off will go while in the car, on the way over. “When we get to the door, I will help you with your shoes, give you a big hug and kiss and then it will be time to walk into school.” (insert your own words/verbiage as desired)
This is an important time for your little one as they are learning how to confidently separate from you. Please steady the course and help your little one stay focused and on purpose: Taking off shoes, saying goodbye, feet to the ground, ready to walk in, knock on door and enter school.
If they begin to play with the plants, play with other shoes, talk about the weather, recite shakespeare, the best way to support them is to say “I hear you, or I see you want to play with this, I am not offering playing right now, you can play when you are inside school, I am happy to help you take your shoes off and give you a big hug and kiss.” It is your/our job to keep them focused… focus does not come naturally to them. This is an opportunity to foster, focus, follow through and managing through feelings while still moving forward.
Why is it important my child is “feet to the ground” before they enter school grounds rather than having me carry them?
Feet to the ground instills a feeling of control and self sufficiency. When we are carried by someone both physically and metaphorically we feel reliant on them. By allowing your child to walk into school themselves you are sending a clear message to them: “You can do it, You are capable, I believe in you.” when you carry them you are also sending a clear message: “You need me, You are not capable of doing this yourself, you must rely on me, I do not believe in your ability.”
If you carry your child into the threshold of school you are sending a confusing message by then expecting them to confidently show up during school. School is challenging, socially, physically, mentally and emotionally. What better way to set them up to win by contributing a healthy message of being capable from the get go!
You can take this into all aspects of your children’s life when there is a choice to allow them to do something themselves or do it for them. Allowing them to do things, even if they struggle, communicates your trust in their ability. Doing things for them communicates a message of “lack” in them and/or a message that says “you need me”. Without the ability to yet compartmentalize these messages become universal.
We are their community. Our actions, mannerisms and demeanor set examples for them. Being a united front will support them tremendously. They will be excited to be back at school and see their friends but have been so close to you for the last week and it may be really hard to say goodbye. Get some sweet moments in together in the morning, spend a few minutes chatting in the car so they are full of your love and support and feel a little less inclined to resist separation at the door.
You can apply the above to most transitions as it’s the communication and atunement your children crave. When they/we feel seen, heard and supported they/we are more likely to want to be partners and are open to requests, making transitions smooth. A dance, if you will. Some tears and big feelings are inevitable and when they cry out and/or express their discomfort be sure to honor them by an acceptance of their feelings snd responding “I see you are upset, I know, it is hard to say goodbye. I love you and will see you again after school, have a good day.” Then if their teacher isn’t already there to support them in entering school, call them over and say “I’m going to ask your teacher to help you now because it’s time for me to go, Bye Bye.” 9 times out of 10, once inside school they will feel comfortable and confident going right into play!
Phrases to avoid when your little one is crying because they don’t want you to leave:
You are ok (this communicates to your child you do not accept them as they clearly do not feel they are ok)
Shush, stop crying (this communicates to your child their feelings are not ok to feel and may cause them to suppress feelings)
Ok, ok, that’s enough (this communicates you are not comfortable with seeing them have feelings which will then communicate to them they should not have feelings and then may cause suppression)
Hey! You are going to have great day! (this is distraction in the form of manipulation)
School is fun! (more distraction and manipulation)
You are going to see all your friends! (still manipulation)
You love school! (another attempt at distraction via manipulation)
What would be the most supportive things to say?
I see you, I know, it is hard to say goodbye (honor and acceptance)
Would you like one more hug before I go? (acceptance in the form of affection)
Yes, you are upset. I see you (more acceptance)
I will miss you to, I’ll see you after school. (acceptance and a reminder of when a reunion will happen given them an image to look forward to)
It’s ok to have all these feelings AND still go to school. (acceptance and a show of your belief in their ability to overcome this moment and follow through despite these uncomfortable feelings)
Teacher is here now, I trust her/him, you are safe with her/him. (a reminder that they are in safe hands even when you are not around)
All of these supportive phrases communicate a strong self esteem building message: “I accept you as you are” “you can handle having big feelings” You are strong and capable”
When we put this much effort into supporting our children in these day to day moments it makes a difference in who they will become and how they feel about themselves. It takes practice and focus but after a while will become second nature and the benefits are phenomenal. You will feel confident and proud as a parent and your child will learn how capable they are through life experience. Emotional experiences create deep imprints and if you use an emotional experience to foster acceptance, confidence and respect, you will leave an imprint that will nurture a confident, respectful person who respects themselves and others.
Hope this helps! Please let me know if I can help in any way~