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Starting school: what parents worry about most

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Is your child about to start school for the first time and you’re a little worried about it?

You’re not alone. Seven in 10 parents worry their child won’t make friends when starting school, according to research conducted by Disney Junior’s show Vampiric. The poll of 1,000 parents found the top concerns among those with kids starting school, with 71 per cent citing ‘settling in’ as their biggest worry.

Psychologist Linda Blair said: “To make friends children must be able to consider life from other people’s points of view so they can appreciate and react to what others want to do and enjoy.

“Although young children show they’re capable of appreciating other viewpoints, they don’t normally apply this skill until they’re about five years old.

The top 10 concerns for parents when their child starts school:

1. Settling in
2. Making Friends
3. Going to the toilet
4. Misbehaving
5. Liking their teacher
6. Not eating their lunch
7. Losing their belongings
8. Not drinking enough water
9. Getting lost
10. Being bottom of the class

Blair has also given tips for parents and carers who want to help their children make friends:

1. Do as I do. During the early years, parents are the child’s best role models. Be sure you show how to make friends by setting a good example, e.g. giving the people around you your full attention – listen fully whenever your child, your partner or other key people around you want to tell you something. Show you’re concerned about how other people are feeling and thank others when they do things you appreciate.

2. Read / watch stories about sharing and making friends and talk about them afterwards. Start reading / watching these stories as early as possible – even before you think your child can understand them! Whenever you see an opportunity ask your child how a character could be feeling—and ask how they know. Disney Junior’s TV show Vampirinia has some fantastic episodes exploring friendship, what it takes to be a good friend, issues they may come across and how to tackle them.

3. Make a head start. Before your child starts a new school year, find out if you can who else will be in their class. Then invite one of those children over to play with your child during the summer holidays. That way, once school starts, your child already has a friend from the start of term. This in turn will reduce their anxiety when they go into class on that first day.