Preschool is a time of immense and rapid development in children. It’s extremely important during this time to support a child’s mental health as much as possible and set a foundation for their emotional well-being for the rest of their lives!
At Ilham Child Care, this is a responsibility we take very seriously. We realize that preschool is a wonderful time to help shape a solid, positive foundation for our children’s mental and emotional health. We also recognize that some children at this age may show signs of stress or anxiety, and we’ve developed processes to help children work through these feelings.
Here’s how we address signs or symptoms of stress or anxiety in our preschoolers, and how you can do the same!
Firstly, recognize that stress and anxiety are very common at this age
It’s normal for parents or caregivers to worry if they witness that a child is experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety but be aware that these are very normal emotions for children at this age! Especially as children enter preschool. Being in a new environment, surrounded by new faces and new routines can be overwhelming for anyone, and children are no exception.
At Ilham, in order to help children feel more at ease when starting at our school, we have our teachers provide comforting, encouraging words to the children that make them feel welcome and valued. We also provide each child with a ‘buddy’— a fellow student to come alongside them and make them feel more comfortable. This also makes it easier for new children to interact with the other children.
Encouraging parents to set a good example
Children are incredibly observant. Often, if a parent feels anxious or stressed about leaving a child at a new school for the first time, their children can sense it.
At Ilham, we try to support our parents as much as possible to help them feel comfortable and confident about student drop-offs. We offer to send daily updates to the parents on how their child is doing and have a system to allow children to wave goodbye to their parents before starting their day—which helps communicate to the parents that their children will be just fine! This confidence from the parents is then picked up on by the children, who then also feel more comfortable about being left at school.
Oftentimes, it may take a few days or weeks when beginning a new school for children to feel less anxious or stressed at drop-off. But stick with it! Eventually, children become much more confident, happily waving goodbye to their parents and excited to begin their day with friends.
Facilitate open communication
Allowing children to be very open and honest about their feelings is a great way to facilitate trust among teachers, parents and students. If a child is having difficulties or experiencing big emotions, teachers and parents should encourage children to share what they are feeling, and work to help children navigate those feelings in a positive way.
The Importance of Intervention
Sometimes, children don’t have the words to communicate what it is they’re feeling. This is when it’s important for teachers or parents to look for signs of emotional distress and intervene. For example, some common manifestations of stress or anxiety in children include:
- Fighting over toys
- Temper tantrums
- Aggression on the playground or in the classroom
- Having accidents
Again, these are all very normal behaviors for children of preschool age.
Ages 2 to 5 are ones of extreme, rapid change, and young children make these transitions with varying degrees of speed and ease. However, noticing if any new behaviors pop-up in the children in our care will help us to proactively address the situation, and offer the child support in overcoming it.