Coping with First Day School Anxiety

Coping With First Day School Anxiety

A Guide to Help your Child Cope with Anxiety on the First Day of School. 

So, the big day is looming:

Your little one’s first day at school!

It’s a mix of excitement and nerves all tangled up in one messy knot. And, just like many other parents who are in the same position right now, you may be wondering:

“How you can I help my child cope with anxiety as they face their first day of school?”

A Wave of Emotions

Even though it’s entirely natural for kids to feel a range of emotions as they step into the unknown territory of a new environment,

ANXIETY often takes centre stage!

It’s a bit like catching a wave on a surfboard for the very first time.

All the uncertainties and challenges of the unknown are like the unpredictable nature of a wave.

And just like a surfer needs balance and confidence to ride the wave, children need emotional support and coping mechanisms to navigate the ups and downs of the new school environment.

Coping is Crucial

Helping your child cope with anxiety on the first day of school is crucial for several reasons.

Not only does it lay the foundation for a positive attitude towards learning, but it also builds resilience and fosters a sense of security.

In fact, children who learn to cope with anxiety early on are better equipped to handle challenges, form positive relationships, and develop a love for learning.

By addressing your child’s anxiety, you will empower them to approach new situations with confidence and enthusiasm.

Transition Strategies

Here are some strategies you can implement at home to ease the transition and set the stage for a positive school experience.


Encourage your child to express their feelings about starting school.

Create a safe space for open conversations where they can share their expectations and concerns. Acknowledge that it’s normal to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness.

Let them know it’s okay to feel a bit anxious.


Visit the school before the first day to familiarise your child with the environment.

Explore classrooms, the playground, and other areas to reduce the fear of the unknown. The more familiar your child is with the setting, the more comfortable they will feel on the first day.


Highlight positive aspects of school, such as making new friends and engaging in interesting topics and fun activities.

Reinforce the idea that school is a place for growth and discovery. Your optimism will contribute to their overall sense of security.


Create a consistent routine leading up to the first day.

This could include setting a regular bedtime, preparing school supplies together, and practising morning routines.

Routines provide a sense of security and will help your child handle the emotional and physical challenges of the first day with ease.


Allow your child to be part of the preparation process.

Let them choose their schoolbag, lunchbox, and school supplies. Involving them in these decisions gives them a sense of ownership and control over the situation.


Teach your child simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualisation, to help manage anxiety when it arises.


Foster a connection between your child and their teacher.

Attend orientation events, communicate with the teacher, and create a supportive partnership to enhance your child’s sense of security.


Arrange playdates with other children who will be in the same class. Attend any orientation events or playdates organised by the school before the official start date.

Familiar faces can provide comfort and make the first day more enjoyable.


Establish a special goodbye routine on the first day.

Whether it’s a hug, a high-five, or a secret handshake, having a consistent farewell ritual helps ease the transition for both you and your child.

Reassure them that you will be there to pick them up at the end of the day.


Arrive at school early on the first day.

Punctuality allows your child to settle in gradually and provides extra time for you to address any last-minute concerns. Being there early makes the process less daunting.


Surprise your child with a hidden treasure in their lunchbox or pencil case.

For example, add a note expressing your love or a small trinket symbolising courage. This delightful gesture injects an element of fun into the day and will be a tangible reminder of your love and unwavering support.

School Success

In the journey of preparing your child emotionally for the first day of school, remember that you’re not just sending them off to learn academically but also to grow emotionally.

It’s about creating an environment where happiness thrives. After all, your child’s emotional resilience will become the compass guiding them through the exciting chapters of life.

Coping with first-day-school-anxiety is not just a task; it’s an opportunity for growth and shared moments of triumph.

Here at Sage Affect, we specialise in offering expert guidance and support for children and families navigating the complexities of emotional well-being. Our services are grounded in evidence-based practices and delivered with a compassionate touch. We use play therapy to empower children in managing anxiety and cultivating resilience for a successful journey through life.

Explore how we can work with you to nurture your child’s emotional growth. 

Laurinda Jones Blog

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