Starting a new school year, whether your daughter is returning to a school building she has gone to before, or you have moved and all is new for her, can be very upsetting. You may find your daughter nervous, perhaps tearful, not sleeping well or wishing she could go to a different school or even not go to school. Here are some ideas to help your daughter adjust:
Reassure her that it is normal to be nervous before we start anything new, even if we have done the same routines in the past. Tell her that you realize that sixth grade is not fifth grade, etc. and that you are on her side.
If you have moved or she will be changing schools, she may also be upset that she is leaving behind a best friend, or several good friends. See what you can do to make this transition less painful.
Maybe you can invite over some of her old friends for a pizza supper, or transport her back to where you did live so she can visit these friends.
At the very least, encourage her to stay in touch with them.
Also let her know that she will make new friends. It just takes time.
If you had something similar happen to you when you were growing up, take the time to share your story with her.
Try to get in touch with the feelings she may have. She probably feels lonely and/or jealous that her old friends may have new friends already to share with. These are very human feelings and you can do her a great service by sharing feelings you have had at times growing up and how they were resolved.
You daughter may also be scared that the work this year will be too hard for her. If she has already started school and complains it is too hard sit down with her and see what she is referring to.
Sometimes a child is correct and may need your help to go into school with her and sit down with her teacher or guidance counselor to see if the work is on the right level for her. Take her seriously. Even if she is exaggerating, remember it feels real to her for now.
Being your daughter’s ally can really help her. She doesn’t have the perspective we have as grown-ups to know that things feel strange when they are new. Help her understand that we are resilient to most situations and after awhile she will feel herself again and also feel relaxed and at ease in her new environment.
And best of all, with all of the above, by being your daughter’s ally, the two of you will grow even closer as you show you really care and you take the time to talk to her.