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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My 6 year old daughter just started grade 1 full time. She

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My 6 year old daughter just started grade 1 full time. She claims to hate school and is refusing to eat or sleep. She was up all night worried about school and not wanting to go to school or to go on the bus, or to the gym. I have asked her if anyone is teasing her or hurting her and she said no. I spoke to her teacher and she said she tends to start to cry a bit but is consoled and is ok and even had a good afternoon yesterday. I don't know how to deal with this as the mornings are extremely chaotic to get her ready for school ad my husband and I are completely exhausted and she is not sleeping either.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Bonnie replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,

First, let me reassure you that this is common in 6 year old girls entering 1st grade. The girls with school anxiety are usually high strung to begin with. I think Kindergarten teachers might say things like..".when you are in first grade".......and then add words which provoke anxiety. So the perfectionistic 6 year old girls become fearful of failing. Usually this goes away once they adjust to the new school year.

Question is how to assist in this adjustment. You may want to approach the guidance counselor (or someone in that role) about making some accommodations for a few weeks. One very helpful strategy is to have her start her day, one-on-one, with a trusted adult doing a fun activity. This would be about 15-20 minutes prior to the other students entering the school. For example, get to school early and play a game with the principal/teacher/counselor. Or doing a special task for an adult. This will serve many purposes:
Have a positive to look forward to.
Avoid being in busy school hallway with other students
Feel special about herself.

If this strategy does not work, she may need some weekly therapy to learn strategies that will allow her to tolerate the school environment. If she has sensory difficulties (hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, etc) a pediatric occupational therapist may be able to help with school anxiety caused by overstimulation.

Here are some books that may also help her (and you)....

I am sure that one of these suggestions will help and she will be happily going to school soon.

Gook luck and warm regards...
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