Coping with Back-to-School Jitters

Reading, writing and -- real anxiety.

The fear factor can be pretty intense for little ones heading back to school, especially first-timers.

Huge questions weigh on their minds, such as "What if the teacher's mean?" and "What if Ihave an accident?"

And on "The Early Show Saturday Edition," Parents magazine Health and Psychology Editor Diane Debrovner shared tips to help you address your child's back-to-school fears.

It's normal for kids to feel that way, Debrovner says, especially if they're heading to school for the first time.

Parents have to prepare not only the kids, but themselves, for back-to-school time, she says, adding that you shouldn't let the kids see your apprehension.

Parents editors asked teachers about the most common back-to-school fears and put word on the top five in the magazine's September issue. The five apply mainly to children four-to-six years old.

Fear # 1 Getting Lost / The Big Building

The teachers we spoke to told us that kids look at the school building and think, "Wow, this place is huge! What if I get lost?"

Children are not used to finding their own way around a new building. The idea of spending a whole day finding their way around a new place on their own can be very intimidating. It is unfamiliar, children are creatures of habit.

How can parents help calm their child's concern about getting lost?

With any of these fears you want to make sure you stay calm. I know back-to -school can be stressful for moms and dads but your child will feel like there is a reason for them to be nervous if they sense your nervousness.

Most schools have an orientation that you and your child should attend before the first day of school. Once kids have seen the inside of the school, especially their classroom, it won't be so foreign to them and they won't be afraid.

If your school doesn't have an orientation, call and ask for a tour. Explore the fun areas like the library, gym and art and music rooms. On the first day of school, you can also point out key landmarks, such as that her classroom is right next to the water fountain.

A lot of kids worry that they're going to have to find their own way to each classroom. Let your child know that she'll never be in the hallways alone. A teacher will always take her where she has to go.

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Fear #2 Strange Grownups / The Teacher

Kids, even little kids, have seen enough movies with scary or mean characters-even mean teachers-to know they should be worried about getting the mean teacher. Older kids, especially older siblings, reinforce this fear when they say things like, "Oh you got her? She's mean," or, "She's a hard teacher."

Your child may be worried that the teacher will have a lot of strict rules, and worry about whether he'll get into trouble if he breaks a rule.

How can you make your child comfortable with his teacher?

Remind your child that the teacher cares about children and they are there to help him/her with anything he needs during the day.

Explain that most of the school rules like no interrupting, no back talk, no hitting, no yelling-are the same ones he already follows at home.

The teachers we spoke with recommended snapping a photo of your child and their teacher together at orientation. You can post it on the fridge so he/she becomes more familiar with this new important role model in their life.

  • CBSNews

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