Supporting Children on their First day of School
It's tough to see your child upset and riddled with fear around starting school for the first time.
The following strategy can be used when a child exhibits feelings around not making any friends
I call it the L.O.V.E response.
Listen, Observe, Validate then Empower.
Child: "Im worried I wont make friends and will feel left out"
Parent using the L.O.V.E Response:
Puts phone down and makes warm eye contact. Has open, accepting body language and a curious look.
Observe own thoughts and emotions so as to not react, or think of ways to fix the problem for your child. Put your own feelings aside and remaining neutral, calm and curious.
Observe child's feelings. In 1 word how are they feeling?
Validate the child's feelings as real, by stating how that must be for them;
"I see, that's a hard place for you to be in" or,
"I understand, that's difficult" or,
"I can see, you're really unhappy" or,
"Gosh, that's hard" or
"The first time is really scary"
Ask questions that spark ideas.
"So, you feel like no one will play with you"?
"What parts do you think will be the hardest?"
"What outcome are you hoping for?"
"I wonder what would happen if we were to break the hard part down into smaller steps?"
"What resources do we have that could help you"?
"What part of the day are you confident about?"
"Is this the first time you have felt like this?"
"Hmm, I wonder what you could try to make it work"
"Do you have any ideas?"
To empower a child means to put energy into or bring enthusiasm out of.
They need action strategies.
Things they can say or do.
They could ask another child; "What's your name?'' "Can I sit here?'' "Have you always lived around here?'' "What class have you got first?'' ''Are you taking the bus home?'' "What did you do on the weekend?"
If you come across a situation like this, remember fixing the problem or saving the day will not create resilience and self confidence.
Try the L.O.V.E response and support your child through difficult situations.
Listen, Observe, Validate and Empower.