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Help kids calm first-day-of-school jitters

The first day of school can be an exciting time, especially for children who have never before attended school. But even youngsters excited about the first day may also experience some jitters. Such nerves are normal, and parents can help kids calm those jitters in various ways.

• Talk about the first day as it approaches. A child's first day of school is a milestone, and parents may do various things to commemorate the occasion. The excitement leading up to the first day can spark kids' enthusiasm, but it also may lead to some anxiety about the unknown. Parents can quell those fears by discussing the first day as it approaches. Explain why the first day is so special, encouraging youngsters to share their feelings. If kids express fears about their first day, parents can explain they felt similarly on their first day of school but quickly adjusted.

• Let kids choose their own clothes. Parents may be tempted to buy special outfits for their children for the first day of school. But kids who are jittery about their first day may calm down if allowed to choose their own attire for the big day. A favorite T-shirt or outfit might be just the thing to comfort kids feeling a bit nervous about their first day of school.

• Get a head start on your morning routine. As summer winds down, begin acclimating children to the morning routine they can expect when the school year begins. One to two weeks before the first day of school, start waking children up when they will need to be up for school. Kids who are accustomed to the morning routine may be more calm on their first day of school because of their familiarity with their new schedule. Going cold turkey on the first day of school may make kids less enthusiastic about attending school.

• Attend school orientation events and plan some play dates in advance of the first day. Seeing familiar faces might make kids forget all about their jitters when they arrive at school on the first day. Inquire about school orientation events and attend as many of those sessions as possible. If encouraged to do so, take kids along so they can meet prospective classmates. Arrange for play dates with those classmates in advance of the first day so kids have a few recognizable faces their own age come the first day of school.

• Start the day off on the right foot. The night before the first day of school, make sure kids' outfits are clean, their supplies are packed and ready to go and their lunch is made. The less parents have to rush around on the morning of the first day of school, the calmer kids are likely to be.

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