Q: My daughter had a terrible time with separation anxiety last year. It seems like it took months for her to feel comfortable being left at her preschool. I cringe when i think about a repeat of all that crying and anxiety. How can i help her have a better experience this year?
A: Please know that you are not alone in your concern. At least 25 percent of children experience some degree of school anxiety and almost all of these children work through it and go on to feel at ease. First and foremost, what’s your attitude? You need to set the tone for your daughter. Approach the new school year with the expectation that she is older and more mature and that she will have success. Next, give her the tools she needs to make sure this happens.I would try to visit before school starts so that she can get reacquainted with the building. Let her meet the new teacher and see her new room. In addition, try to set up a play date with some of the children who will be in her class before school starts. Do what you can to make drop-off time go as smoothly as possible, which means no rushing. Later, ask your daughter if she would like to invite any of her classmates to your home for a play date after school. Communication is important at every age. Be sure to ask open-ended questions after the school session. What made you smile at school today? What was your favorite game? Another idea is to read books that might ease her concerns.
If she has not adjusted successfully after two to three weeks, you might inquire about an observation session in the classroom. It might help to see how the classroom operates so you can have a better handle on the situation. Remember that past experience does not necessarily predict future experience when it comes to children. Trust in time and life lessons to help your child acquire coping skills.
Q: Our son is ten months old and as first-time parents we are trying to find our way in many areas. Most of our friends with infants are big on computer games. It seems that as soon as babies can hold a device, they are given games to play on a screen. We want to make sure that our son does not miss out on any tool that will help him learn, but how much screen time is okay for a ten-month-old?
A: For me the response to this one is simple. When it comes to screen time and infants, the answer is the less the better – and none would be my choice. I too see babies all over town in strollers looking at hand-held devices. I am not sure what they are seeing, but I can tell you what they are missing. The world! Babies need lots of social interaction, experience of the world at large, and creative play in order to grow to be confident well functioning children and, later, adults.None of these experiences are learned watching a computer screen. Research in early child development comes to this conclusion over and over. My advice to you would be to talk and sing to your infant. Play simple games like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. Allow him to observe his environment when he is out in the stroller and make sure that he has access to creative toys that offer open-ended play such as blocks, board books, and nesting or stacking toys. Your son will have plenty of time for computer games later in life.Trust me – there will come a time when you will be looking for ways to get him away from the screen. Five or six is early enough for the computer