Preschool is a time of adjustment for child and parent alike.

Anxiety in Parents of Preschoolers

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

The start of preschool is an emotional time and a big step for both child and parent. Preschool prepares a child for elementary school where she will experience bigger challenges, achievements and failures. Sending a child off to preschool for the first time can provoke anxiety in moms and dads. Nail biting questions and concerns about how you and your child will handle the separation and adjust to preschool may abound. Managing your nerves can help your little student stay calm.

1. Considerations

Mixed emotions about your child's readiness for preschool are common, explains KidsHealth.org, a website published by the Nemours Foundation. Feeling anxious doesn't necessarily mean that you're leery about sending your child off to preschool. Like any other major step or life-changing event, starting school can stir up anxiety even when you know it's a positive step forward for your future student. It can be stressful to realize that your child will be in a new environment where you won't have any control. Keep in mind that during the few hours you'll be out of the picture your child will have the opportunity to interact with other students and learn important life skills like how to follow rules, take turns and share.

2. Easing Your Fears Can Help Calm Your Child's Reservations

You and your future preschooler will run into fewer problems if you are calm and comfortable about your decision. Feeling anxious, guilty or reluctant about preschool can rub off on your child, points out the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. In other words, a vicious cycle can ensue if your child picks up on your anxiety and vice versa. On the other hand, if you remain calm your child is likely to follow suit. Talk to your child about preschool in advance of the start date and gradually introduce her to activities that she'll likely encounter in class. While it's fine to discuss the importance of preschool, making too much out of it can provoke feelings of anxiety in her.

3. Recommendations

Taking steps to quell your anxiety can help you adjust to the idea of being a parent of a preschooler. Setting aside time to relax, mediate, listen to soothing music or get a professional massage can relieve tension. Regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate sleep can also make you less vulnerable to anxiety. Let go of the notion that you have to be in control of your child every minute of every day. Sharing your feelings with others can also be helpful. And don't forget to laugh! Laughter can help your body send stress packing.

4. Outlook

Keeping your cool will allow you to be more present for your child who is, after all, the one embarking on an adventure in a foreign environment filled with teachers and kids she's never met before. Explain to your child that it's perfectly normal to feel nervous and excited at the same time. As a calm role model you will minimize her apprehension and be in better form to reassure your child that everything will be alright.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

Photo Credits

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