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Dealing with Morning Crying

            Does your child have crying episodes in the morning?  Are you seeing slight tears, buckets of tears, screaming, or shouting?  This is not unusual, although it might be completely out of character for your child, and every year we have some students who cry when they come to school.  Your child might be a rising kindergartener who is nervous about starting school, a first grader who had a fantastic experience in kindergarten and is now getting used to a new first grade situation, or a student who hasn’t stopped crying since he/she realized that summer was almost over.  The best thing that you can do as parents in situations like these is to LEAVE THE BUILDING.

When children are upset and crying, this can be upsetting to anyone including other students, adults, and especially to you as parents.  We understand this, and want to make parents aware that children tend to have the hardest time calming down when parents stay in school with them.  This is especially true if children think that they have any chance of leaving school for the day.  Explain to your child that you have things to do, such as taking younger siblings to school, going to work, etc., Help them to understand that you have very important work to do and that they too have a very important job – being a student and learning here at school. 

You might also want to explain that it is the law that all children their age must be in school, which can help them understand the importance of their presence.  Your child might continue to argue that they want to leave with you, but it is important that they stay at school.  The less arguing the better – just explain the facts of what must take place and leave your child with us.  I generally find that children are able to pull themselves together once they are at school and away from their parents.  For this reason, we recommend working toward putting your child on the bus as soon as possible.

As the school counselor, I can spend time with your child either in my office or in the classroom until your child is no longer upset.  My goal is to help your child calm down and reenter class as quickly as possible.  As soon as possible I will call you to let you know that your child is working and has settled down.  Please be advised that hanging around the halls to “catch a glimpse” of your child or even trying to come back to eat lunch with your child later in the day will most likely lead to problems.  It is hard enough to separate once, twice can be nearly impossible!

            In addition, when your child comes home after a successful day in school, talk to him/her about what happened during their day.  Allow your child the opportunity to vent about what didn’t go well and then encourage him/her to talk about the things that did go well.  “I know that you were upset this morning when I left.  How did you calm yourself down?  What did you say to yourself to have a better day?”  Self-talk is something that adults do naturally and easily, but children need help learning this skill.  They may benefit from practicing key phrases such as, “I can do it.”  Help them practice language that reinforces their accomplishments.

            Some other tips that I recommend to all parents with children who are having trouble adjusting to school are:

  • Make sure that your child gets plenty of sleep (9 hours) each night.

  • At night, talk to your child in a positive way about going to school the next day.  If he/she has fears, listen to your child and try to validate what he/she is feeling.  Let children know that if there is a problem here at school, I want to help solve that problem and staying out of school will not end the problem.

  • Minimize morning madness by preparing the night before.  Set out clothes, pack lunches, and put backpacks by the door.

  • Put a special note in your child’s lunch box or back pack about school or about how much you care.  Tell your child that you are thinking of him/her.  Send them off with a message of love and support!

·                  Please be reassured that if your child continues to be upset throughout the school day, we will let you know.  Sometimes just arriving at school and starting the day is enough to calm students down and get them ready for learning. 

Thank you for trusting us with your child and for your cooperation.  We will be in touch to let you know how things are going for your child.

 If you would like additional information about this topic or you would like to talk with me about your child, please feel free to contact me at 723-2308 or at sdonaldson@hanover.k12.va.us.   

 Our Mission:  Hanover County School Counselors provide all students educational services, in collaboration with parents, school and the community

 Our Mission:  Hanover County School Counselors provide all students educational services, in collaboration with parents, school and the community, that foster
                       academic, career and social/emotional growth toward lifelong success and effective, responsible citizenship for a diverse and changing world.