Off to School Tool Box: Independence and Confidence
Separating from parents or other familiar adults and caregivers can be a big deal for some children. Others are so comfortable that it’s the parents who suffer from hurt feelings. Most kids can cope with at least short, planned spans of time without a parent or parent stand-in and that’s a good place to start.
To help a child with a minor separation concern, join an activity like story time at the library or community recreation program. Practice may be enough to help a child feel comfortable and be able to cope with longer times at a care center or kindergarten.
For more serious anxieties, you may want an opportunity to talk with your family doctor or another professional, such as a play therapist. Anxiety can be a real issue but it helps to address at a young age.
Another part of independence and confidence is being comfortable with using the bathroom. This can range from no problems to a much bigger challenge. Not that this is how you want to spend your time, but certainly check them out in various places so kids have an idea of what to expect. Not all toilets will flush the same way. And it is particularly helpful for boys if they have seen and used urinals. We have to make sure kids are not feeling scared about taking care of their basic needs.
Read some books about it, there’s lots of great ones with illustrations and fun stories. Help your child to know the pictures and various words for bathroom, like restroom and washroom. Who’s in the Bathroom by Jeanne Willis is pretty funny and uses many different and even unusual words.
Self-care and separation are certainly not academics but they are concerns for children’s comfort and confidence when it comes to their development and learning. We want them to learn independence and we want them to be independent learners.