Parents who have a child who deals with Before School Jitters, doesn’t have to ask themselves twice if this describes them. They know. Every child has some jitters before school or activities every so often. But if you have a child who deals with them daily or regularly- you know the struggle. You wonder how I know? I had a child like that. And I was a child like that. Just ask my Mom:) I cried before school and sometimes during the school day in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 4th Grade (WAS THE WORST), 6th Grade, on and off from 7- 8th because come on who doesn’t have some issues in Jr High. And then again my Senior Year. I might be most embarrassed about that one! Before School Jitters is tough on the child and also tough on the parent.
There isn’t one thing that is a fix all solution. But I hope a few suggestions will bring some peace and comfort.
Fear, nerves and worry are real and can get carried away really fast. It is hard on the parent to watch your child suffer and to know how to help, so pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment to know just what is happening in your child’s mind and situation that is causing the fear. Pray for compassion and patience to have a listening ear and understanding attitude. Giving that gift of understanding and being heard will do a long way in the influence you will have. It usually doesn’t end well to just get frustrated at the fearful child and tell them to get over it and buck up. Just saying!
Pray with you child, in the moment of fear. But also in a daily routine. At breakfast for the day. In the car on the way to school. Modeling through prayer the dependence we can have on God is a wonderful example. Prayer won’t necessarily take a fearful feeling away immediately. You can explain that to your child and continue to daily and regularly pray together asking God to grow and strengthen. Life lessons are hard to learn and your child is never to early to begin to learn them.
2. Memorize/ Utilize Scripture-
God’s word is truth. Use it to bring truth into the fearful feelings. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is any worthy of praise, think about these things”.
Memorize verse together. Kids are great at memorizing. Begin to memorize ones that will help them to think on truth. A few great ones. Joshua 1:9, Psalm 3:3 (many to find in the Psalms), Isaiah 41:13 “I the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you”. Little children especially know what it is like to hold a hand of someone that is in charge and protecting them. John 14:1, Colossians 1:17. These are just a few.
Explain to your child about the weapons we have to fight these fears. Ephesians 6:10-18 gives a wonderful description of the armor of God. As your children get dressed, remind them to all “put on their armor”. Talk through the pieces. Put up a picture of a Roman Soldier with the pieces of the armor in their room for a visual reminder.
Read through the Jesus Calling 365 Devotional for Kids. This is a sweet version of the adult one, which by the way, in my adult worry and fear struggles has brought relief, growth and a fresh perspective on Jesus’s lavish love for me.
3. Talk about the jitters at a different time-
Don’t leave it to the morning to talk about the jitters. Talk about what bothers your child at a different time. Explain how the school drop off will work. Explain who will pick them up and where. Explain what time school will be done and how to tell what time it is. Let the child offer suggestions. Take the time then ask them what about school is bother them. Role play at home if your child is younger. They learn by playing. Play school, act out some getting ready for school scenarios. Let them practice what they might say or do in the safety of your house.
4. Let the child wear a bracelet or pin something to their backpack to remind them of home-
I wore a mouse pin to school. My Mom encouraged me to look at when I felt like crying and be reminded that I would be coming home soon. As I got older, my Mom reminded me that, “Crying was best to do at home. I didn’t need to cry at school. Once I got home again if I needed to cry, then that is where I could do that.” Most of the time I didn’t need to cry once I got home. Praise your child with lots of encouragement and hugs at the process of small and big victories.
Talk to the teacher. Privately and with respect to your child. It might embarrass them that there feelings are wrong in feeling scared. I would word it a bit like this. “Tommy has been feeling nervous about school. We are working with him at home and wanted you to be aware. Would you be willing to reassure him? Please let me know out of ear shot of Tommy if you have some suggestion that I can work with him on my end. We know it will help by working on it together.” As you child gets older. Tell your child you are going to talk to the teacher and what you are doing to say.
5. Find a Counselor-
If jitters continue or get worse- find a Christian Counselor who work with children. Focus on the Family have counselors you can call and talk to and then will refer you to recommended counselors in your local area. My parents found a counselor for me to talk to as a child and it was helpful. It brought some greater clarity for my parents and brought some peace to the battle of the fear and worry.
Be cautious of shielding your child from anything/everything new. The only way for your child to grow in this area is to do some practicing. AND THAT CAN BE SOOO HARD TO WATCH. My husband and I prayed and explored many times through the process with our child. We really wondered if we should home school. And although we did end up doing that eventually, our child had made some great strides in this area by then. If we had taken them out of the process of learning to early, it would of enabled instead of finding growth.
Email us or comment to share your stories and tips. There are no two stories exactly the same. We would feel honored to problem solve with you to help eliminate fears and bring more confidence to your child’s school experience!