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4 yr old very anxious about starting school

(10 Posts)
Mistylake Tue 23-Aug-16 22:24:53

My son is hugely worried about starting school. He's not saying it as much although he sometimes mentions it, but mostly it is showing as naughty behaviour, being really tearful, worrying endlessly about other more 'trivial' things, tummy ache, not sleeping well... He knows two class mates quite well although not bestest friends, he's easily made friends, seemed to like the teacher when they had a settling in session, had a good time at preschool and is quite independent for his age so I'm not really sure why he's so worried and can't get to the bottom of it. He is also really preoccupied with people dying, especially if I will die before him. Lots going on in his little head and we're not so sure how best to support him apart from just keep reassuring him that all will be fine. He's not usually a timid or anxious child at all, so I'm a bit at a loss

Any ideas or similar experiences, fellow mumsnetters?

NormHonal Tue 23-Aug-16 22:27:22

If he can't explain it to you in words, can he draw it?

Or can you sit down with him (without siblings around) and get him to list everything he's worried about? You write them down without commenting and when he's got it all out, go through the issues one-by-one and come up with some solutions together?

Crasterwaves Tue 23-Aug-16 23:11:14

Is it worth using some tv as a prompt to talk about it with you? eg if you go onto bbc iplayer there are topsy and Tim episodes currently on there about starting reception and Tim is nervous about school but topsy is confident. They are very nicely done if you haven't seen them.

Has he watched time for school on the iplayer? My same age child loves them - very demystifying about reception.

Wellmeetontheledge Wed 24-Aug-16 08:44:52

Hello, I'm a year 1 teacher who works closely with reception. The preoccupation with death and dying is quite a commen occurrence when they reach a certain developmental stage, although it can understandably be quite distressing for the parents.

About the being nervous for school, have you tried reading some picture books about it together? When he does start let the teAcher know and they'll be able to help him settle down and address any worried he has. Good luck!

Mistylake Wed 24-Aug-16 20:11:10

Thanks all of you! I've tried watching the starting school BBC series with him but he flat out refuses, and won't look at books, try on uniform items or shoes. Won't talk about it. It's like he's decided he doesn't want it to happen so he'll just blank it out completely and pretend it's not happening. But my usually happy go lucky child who is usually fast asleep by 7.30 is suddenly up till way past 11pm crying his eyes out. Hard because we can't reassure him if he doesn't want to talk about it, but I do try to get into conversations how he's really good at making friends and how he was a bit worried when starting nursery but had loads of fun.

I will definitely mention his anxiety to the teacher, who seems lovely and very experienced - but really hope he'll settle once he actually starts and sees that there's nothing to be so worried about. X

Wellmeetontheledge Thu 25-Aug-16 08:37:34

Hmm as he wont look at the books/uniform etc could you try just leaving it lying around without drawing any attention to it? It might normalise it a little and tempt him to have a look when he thinks no one is looking?

WhattodoSue Thu 25-Aug-16 09:06:41

Perhaps tell him How excited you are about him starting school, and all the things you loved about primary school, and all your positive memories. Perhaps say how much fun it will be, how much you liked his teacher, etc. So you are as positive as possible about your school experience without telling him about his feelings (e.g. It will be so much fun not he will have so much fun type thing).

Believeitornot Thu 25-Aug-16 09:10:33

Stop talking about starting school. Just stop it completely.

I agree about leaving his uniform within reach - my dd likes to try hers on occasionally. We don't talk about it much unless she does or her big brother does.

This approach of letting our DCs talk about things instead of revving them up by going on about how exciting something is seems to work very well. It's actually not exciting starting school, it's a combination of apprehension, fear, unease plus maybe a bit of excitement. So I don't think it's a good idea to pretend otherwise.

catkind Thu 25-Aug-16 09:23:53

It can be exciting, really, it depends on the child. DD is really really excited, but she's a younger sibling so she has a good idea what to expect. It's difficult if he won't talk about it, then you don't know what about it's worrying him. For example DD is a bit worried about how going to the toilet works, it can often be little unknowns that worry them rather than school as a whole.

DS was on the very nervous end of the spectrum, didn't open his mouth for the first 3 weeks (teacher didn't tell me that till later!). But he was full of it at home and really happy once he was actually started and it wasn't all a big blank unknown any more.

I think if he will ever let you talk, it may not be reassurance he needs so much as a bit of talking through what it will be like and what to do if he feels stuck. How to make friends. How to ask the teachers if he doesn't know what to do. I wonder if telling him how great it will be and how good he'll be at making friends etc might make him feel under pressure a bit. But may be projecting the way my two deal with things.
So if it was DS I'd maybe drop the odd ... and when you're at school the teachers will help cut up your sausages if you need it... or whatever into it when we're doing those things at home, just to keep it out there, without expecting excitement or response. But you know your child best, and maybe a complete stop to school conversation is better for him.

Mistylake Sat 01-Oct-16 21:07:56

Just an update should anyone find the thread when going through the same next year and the experience is useful. All our problems pretty much ceased on the first day of school - he loves it, skips off every morning with barely a backwards glance, wants to wear his uniform at the weekend, knows all the kids in the neighbourhood now and is generally really happy. On the other hand a little friend who was really looking forward to school is finding it tough and very tiring. So no relationship between attitude before starting school and actual experience - wish I'd known as I was really quite worried!

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