**The following article was written by guest blogger, Heather Ransons.**
It's the time of year when new nervous children are coming into your childcare. Some may seem a little anxious while others come in crying their eyes out. Starting a new routine can be stressful for children; in fact it's stressful for most people. Do you remember the last time you went somewhere completely new, didn't know anyone and had to stay there for part or most of the day? Sounds pretty overwhelming! Think about how you felt and what you did to calm your feelings of anxiety.
Here are a few tips to help ease the back to school jitters.
- Greet children warmly when they enter your child care, this makes them feel welcome and less on edge. Speak with a calm comforting voice because it has a soothing effect on the children. Focus on the positives by talking about the benefits of being at your child care like playing with specific toys or by praising a child for their good behaviors.
- Encourage anxious children to take part in activities that they may find relaxing like looking at a book. Try to stay calm; children look to adults as role models and will often copy your behaviors.
- Having a conversation with a nervous child is a great way to make them feel more relaxed. Start by asking the child how or what they are feeling? Listen attentively by making eye contact and leaning in as they answer. Sympathize with the child by sharing information such as; I understand you are scared because this is a new place, I would be scared if I was you. Ask a follow-up question like; what do you do when you feel this way. Share ways that you handle the same feelings, for example, when I feel like I'm starting to cry I like to take a few deep breaths.
- Invite the child to try your way of dealing with nervous feelings. If they are not interested in your method, ask what they would like to do. Spending time with an anxious child shows that you are concerned about their well-being and helps the child feel comfortable in your care.
The beginning of the school year may be rough with new children, but these strategies will help calm children and make your job easier.
Check out this past issue of CRS CONNECT for more ideas on how to prepare for the first day of school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heather Ransons is a health educator for the YMCA Child Resource Services. She is working to improve the health of children and adults in San Diego County. As part of her current contract, Heather is working with preschool agencies to provide support and resources to help improve their nutrition. This includes transitioning meal time to a family-style environment in which children serve themselves to improve their motor skills, develop language, and strengthen self-confidence. Heather is creating professional development for teachers focusing on nutrition and training teachers with the Farm to Preschool curriculum. She is also developing family workshops and resource nights emphasizing the importance of nutrition and physical activity.
Heather has a Bachelor's degree in Communications and a Master's degree in Education. She is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and a Holistic Health Practitioner.