Make time to be alone—and have an ugly cry
Halfpoint/Shutterstock No matter how many books—or articles just like this one—you read, you will likely still feel a twang in your heart as you walk hand-in-hand with your kindergartner into the classroom, only to head back to your car solo. Feel like having a snotty-nosed, red-eyed tantrum in the parking lot? Stephanie O’Leary, Ph.D, clinical psychologist, gives you full permission to ugly cry it out. (Well, perhaps not for the elementary school guard to see, but in a space that feel comfortable.) “Give yourself some alone time to be emotional. It’s natural and expected to be experiencing a wave of emotions as your little one prepares to pack up and head to school for the first time, and it’s important to honor your feelings,” she explains. Feel shame about being emotional? Don’t. Here are some surprising benefits of crying.
Turn your anxiety into excitement
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock So you’re worried about how your child will fit in. If they’ll make friends. If they’ll be bullied. There are all sorts of thoughts racing through your mind, and guess what? They’re 100 percent normal, explains Adam Pletter, Psy.D, child psychologist. He suggests leaning into the anxieties, instead of fighting them, but with a helpful twist: turn the worries into excitement. “There is growing research that feeling excitement activates the part of the brain that helps the individual problem solve, which helps the parent and child cope. Accepting the nervousness as normal and then shifting to feeling excited about aspects of the changing role as parent will help everyone involved cope more effectively and that is the goal: coping with the change and feeling in control as much as possible,” he explains. If nothing else helps, these phrases will instantly calm your nerves.