Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to consider that will help your child to have a successful start in school.

Build your child’s self esteem and resilience:

  • Mastery of life skills leads to feeling capable, so it’s important to allow your child to develop those skills. As parents we often believe that because we can do something more quickly or thoroughly than our child, we should do it instead of them (i.e. bathing and dressing, picking out clothing, helping out in the kitchen). Children gain confidence in themselves with each and every success they have at something they practice doing. By denying them these opportunities, you undermine a very important process and your child begins to believe they are incapable.
  • Socializing with other children during play dates and other organized play events also gives your child the opportunity to build social skills and have positive interactions with other children.
  • Taking part in team sports builds confidence and social skills as child interacts with other children and learns to be involved in a group of peers.

Teach your child what to do when someone teases or picks on them:

  • Be assertive – give your child exact words to say and role-play how to talk to the bully/meanie. E.g. “Everyone is allowed to play with the blocks, Mrs. Niven said so.”
  • Walk away and play with someone else – young children often think they have only one friend to play with. Help them identify other children they can play with or be with when another child says, “I don’t want to play with you”, or “You can’t sit here”.
  • Get help when needed – you want your child to know when to let a teacher know about what’s going on, especially when there is any negative physical interaction going on.
  • Young children need also to learn about boundaries and personal space and that it is not OK to put your hands on another person without their permission.  Teachers can help teach this in the classroom.

Teach your child the important basic social skills of making friends. Use role-playing to teach your child:

  •     How to invite someone to play a game.
  •     How to join a game on the playground.
  •     How to introduce themselves to someone new.

Self-confidence and resilience are priceless gifts your child gains by practicing and mastering these important skills. Like any new skill, practicing and practicing often will improve your child’s ability to use the skill. You wouldn’t expect yourself or your child to be able to play a beautiful sonnet the first time a violin is picked up and played. That comes with practice and coaching/teaching. All skills are acquired in the same way. Give your child multiple opportunities to master these skills and watch their self-esteem grow and their confidence shine.

By Samantha Madhosingh, Psy.D. – Dr. Madhosingh is a clinical psychologist and professional coach with expertise in child development, family issues, parenting, and trauma. She has a private practice in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia providing an array of mental health and coaching services to adults, children, adolescents and families.  Dr. Madhosingh loves being the mother of her 5-year-old daughter and engaging in the wonderful journey of parenthood. Dr. Madhosingh can be found on Twitter @DrSMadhosingh and on Facebook on her Fan PageParenting 101. Her website provides information for parents.