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Through tears and tantrums

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Chain reaction Children tend to cry when they see others around them crying
Chain reaction Children tend to cry when they see others around them crying

Parenting Kids may cry and throw tantrums when they start school for the first time. Liza George discovers how to turn those tears into smiles

It’s a milestone for your little angel – the day he/she starts school. While your kid may seem all smiles as he sets off for his debut in school, you can’t help but say a silent prayer that the smiles last till the end of the day and nightmares of your kid bawling and clinging on to your neck do not become a reality.

“But children will bawl and make a fuss if you use ‘school’ as a threat or depict teachers as tyrants. Kids will develop an aversion towards school even before they join school if you keep telling them you will send them to school if they are naughty,” says A. Nirmala, principal and child psychologist, Shantiniketan School. She feels school should depicted as a place of fun and play, something to look forward to.

School, an adventure

According to Narayan R., going to school was shown as an adventure that his daughter Saraswati, who joined playgroup at Chempaka, Jawahar Nagar, would embark on. “I told her it would be a wonderful experience. We told her what she could expect from school, teachers, friends… We also told her that we would be waiting outside for her once school is over,” he says. And it worked like a charm, his daughter walked in and out of school with a broad smile.

However, Divya Jacob was not as lucky, her daughter, Namitha cried for the first few days of school. “She would stick on to me like glue and the teacher would have to pry her off me. She was scared that we would not come back to pick her up. She has adjusted well now, though,” says Divya whose daughter is in UKG at Navajeevan Bethany Vidyalaya.

So what is it that causes kids to cry when they first start school?

Says Jayachandran D., senior medical social worker at Sri Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology: “Some children suffer from separation anxiety. They are afraid that their parents might abandon them at school, especially if they have never been separated from their parents before, even for short periods. That is why they cry. They need to be ‘systematically desensitized,’ that is, they need to be weaned into the whole process of going to school gradually. ”

But what about kids who seem bold and outgoing, why do they cry? “It could be mass psychology. They see one kid cry, and they start sniffling and the next one starts to cry, chain reaction. Also it could be a way for some to seek attention,” says Dr. Jayachandran.

Parents, according to Dr. Jayachandran, need to help make the children feel excited about school. “Read to them books on other children’s experiences at school, take them shopping for school goods, tell them how they can make friends and play at school. Never express any apprehensions you may feel about them joining or being in school.”

Teachers also have a role in helping kids get adjusted to school. Says Daphne Gomez, principal of L’ecole Chempaka and advisor Chempaka Kindergarten: “Teachers should be well-trained. They should be performers; they should be able to keep the children entertained and occupied. Once the kids’ attention is diverted to what the teacher is doing, they will realise school isn’t so bad after all.”

So, if your kids cry till their face turns blue, throw temper tantrums and all, ignore it. Give it time, they will get used to it, after all, we did, didn’t we?

Timely tips

Do not use the word ‘school’ as a term for punishment or depict teachers as tyrants.

Stop by the school a couple of times with your kid, so that your child gets used to the school and teachers.

Speak fondly about what your child can look forward too in school.

Get them involved in the process of getting ready for school.

Be sure you tell them that you will be there to pick them up from school and be there on the dot.

Kids may cry but parents have to be firm yet kind when dropping them off at school.

Dr. A. Nirmala

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