A parent expert from Birmingham Maple Clinic appeared on Fox 2 Detroit with Jessica Starr’s Parent2Parent segment to give tips on sending children to school for the first time. Since back to school may give rise to some separation anxiety and worry, Carrie Krawiec, LMFT offered some suggestions to help parents set their children up for success.
Along with teaching children to replace negative thoughts with more positive alternatives and helping to make children familiar with school and their surroundings Carrie suggested using role play as a way to use humor and play to engage your young children in problem solving and preparing for the rite of passage to all day school.
Carrie recommends the “Right Way Wrong Way” card game as a tool to help kids gain confidence in themselves in a variety of situations. So how to play?
- What you need: A deck of cards, a large piece of paper or poster board, a marker, some scraps of paper or 3 by 5 cards and some hilarious kiddos.
- Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. At the top on one side draw a frown face and write “Wrong way” and “Red Cards” on the other side draw a smile face and write “Right Way” and “Black Cards”.
- On the scraps of paper write possible scenarios to draw from a pile. For kindergarteners this may be “Cannot find my bus,” “Losing jacket,” “Someone takes an item of mine that doesn’t belong to them,” “Another student pestering me,” “Feeling sad/Missing home,”etc.
- Pick one scenario from the pile and have a child pick a card. Have them keep the card close to chest so they know what it is but everyone else must guess.
- Have your child act out what they think the “Right” thing to do is if they have a black card and have them pretend behave very poorly if they have a red card for “wrong way.”
- Guess your child’s card. Keep a list of positive behaviors on the “right way” side of paper and negatives on the “wrong way.”
- Congratulate your kiddo often and give lots of verbal encouragement or thumbs up and high fives. Even if they’ve drawn a “wrong way” you can punctuate and encourage by saying “I can really tell you know the difference between good and bad behavior.” Or “Its clear to me you know just what to do and what not to do.” If too many of one color card are drawn in a row change it up by asking your child “Well, what you would you have done if it was the opposite?” You should also take turns playing along. Your kids will love spending this time with you. Later on you can use “red card” or “black card” as an inside joke to catch your child when they are on track or as a gentle redirection if needed.
If your child continues to have anxiety, a marked change in mood, personality or behavior, trouble sleeping, or lots of tearfulness at separation they may benefit from seeing a therapist to prevent or reduce separation anxiety disorder. To schedule an appointment with a therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic visit www.birminghammaple.com or call (248) 646-6659.
To see the Parent2Parent interview with Jessica Starr visit http://www.fox2detroit.com/good-day/15889970-story.