Experts address first day school jitters

LOS ANGELES Tuesday was the first day of school at La Canada's Paradise Canyon Elementary, and mother of four Jaki Larsen took it pretty hard.

"I've been crying. I cried yesterday. I cried this morning," said Larsen. "I think because my oldest are entering kindergarten and it was just yesterday that they couldn't walk."

Getting ready for school is probably hardest on parents, but kids have a lot of anxiety as well, and most of the time its about being able to fit in.

Derek Chin has a first grader.

"He was curious about how many friends of his would be in class," said Chin.

"A lot of children are dealing with these sorts of stresses and they don't always feel open about describing them to their families," said pediatrician Dr. Sheela Rao.

There will always be a lot of firsts in your child's life so it's natural to have anxiety. Doctors say the most important tool parents have for this is communication.

"Try to engage their kids in conversing a little bit more in the sorts of changes in the relationship that they've seen or felt," said Dr. Rao.

Dr. Rao says kids can adapt to most new situations, but if a student encounters bullying or loss of friendships, children need to know you're interested in what they think and feel.

"I think that at least demonstrates to the child that you are genuinely interested in helping them figure this out," said Dr. Rao.

One way that helps Jaki and her husband keep the lines of communication open is to leave their kids little notes in their lunch bag.

"We do it just because we want to encourage them," said Jaki. "It feeds my heart when I do the note or when Seth does the note. It makes us feel good."

Just one of many examples of how to share the joys of school with your child.

"Take it in. It goes by quick. Enjoy every moment of it and don't let the pressures of life rob you of the joy of raising your children," said Chin.

Dr. Rao reminds parents that you can also ask your child's teachers or school counselors for input if you have questions or are concerned about changes in your child's behavior.

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