Home During Your Move Helping My Child With Anxiety Handle Our Move

Helping My Child With Anxiety Handle Our Move

by Ali Wenzke
Helping my child with anxiety disorders

Samantha and Adam stared at Andrew’s name at the bottom of a long waitlist. This was their shot to get Andrew the help he needed. According to the social worker, Andrew didn’t pass the threshold to receive assistance in the public kindergarten. Samantha and Adam decided they needed to move. They would find a school that could help their child work through his anxiety.

Unfortunately, deciding to move isn’t the same thing as being able to move. The house didn’t sell after months on the market. Then, Samantha received the call that Andrew’s spot had opened up at the private school. Change of plans. Samantha and Adam decided to stay in their house and do some remodeling. Andrew’s new school didn’t offer special services, but the small classroom size allowed Andrew to receive personalized attention.

Finding the Right School Can Be a Challenge

After two years of private school, Samantha and Jeff worried that this small environment would not prepare Andrew for later in life. Andrew’s school only went up to eighth grade and the next step would be a large public high school. They decided that their best option would be to make the move to the suburbs where special services would be readily available.

As with most moves, things didn’t quite go as planned. Due to the renovations, the house sold after the first showing and they found a house in the suburbs that they loved. Their intention was to move after second grade. The reality was a January move, smack in the middle of the school year. In the end, this mid-year move proved to be a blessing since Andrew’s teacher could focus additional attention on him.

Hiring Packers and Movers Can Help With the Anxiety

Samantha and Adam wanted to minimize disruption to their son’s life, so they hired packers for the first time. Even though they’d always packed themselves in prior moves, they thought this would be best for Andrew. He likes quiet. Moving day is anything but. Samantha also didn’t want Andrew’s things to be boxed up for a week at a time. So, the movers came and packed everything up the day before the move. Andrew went to school in the morning, leaving from his old house, and then the family went straight to their new house after school.

Social Stories Ease the Transition to a New School

Helping My Child With Anxiety Handle Our Move

Take photos of your child at school to create a social stories book.

Samantha wanted to make Andrew’s transition to a new school as smooth as possible. So, she created social stories for him when he started at his new school. Samantha asked Andrew’s teacher if she could go into his classroom before school started. She took pictures of Andrew at his desk, at his locker, and in the school cafeteria. She also took pictures of the places where Andrew could go if he felt overwhelmed.

Then she made him a book called “Andrew’s Day at School.” It would walk him through his day. “This is where Andrew sits. This is where he eats.” The story always ended with “Andrew is proud and confident about starting at his new school.”  Samantha felt this helped Andrew put himself at school mentally before the first day of school.

A Notification System with Teachers Helps

Some parents prefer for their child to settle in and see how they do before having a conversation with the teacher about anxiety. Samantha prefers to talk to teachers in advance. However, in her experience, some teachers are more open to it than others. When Samantha approached Andrew’s kindergarten teacher, she dismissed Samantha by saying, “Oh, he’s just a boy. He’ll be fine.” Then, on the first day of kindergarten, she called out Samantha in front of all of the other parents. “Mrs. Robbins, I need to talk to you about Andrew.” Samantha felt mortified, embarrassed for Andrew and for herself in front of the other new parents.

Fortunately, Samantha and Andrew’s teacher came to an understanding. Instead of calling on Mrs. Robbins in front of the other parents, the teacher would slip a note into Andrew’s folder. If Samantha saw a note, she would know that she and Andrew should stick around at school a little longer after pick-up. They could resolve issues privately.

The School Can Help Your Child Deal With Any Anxiety 

Making Friends

Samantha worried about Andrew making friends. At the same time, she felt comforted by his social worker’s observation. She told Samantha that Andrew would probably not be the kid with fifty friends, but having one buddy would go a long way. Samantha reached out to the second grade teacher. She provided Samantha with some kids’ names that she thought would be a good match for Andrew. This made it much easier for Samantha to know who to reach out to when setting up playdates.

Not Feeling Singled Out

Helping my child with anxiety handle our move

If your child needs something to play with at school, ask your teacher to include the whole class.

The school also assisted in helping Andrew not feel singled out for certain behaviors. Andrew’s social worker suggested Andrew place Velcro under his desk that he could fiddle with during school. Samantha asked the teacher if that would be okay. The teacher responded, “Sure! Would Andrew like to talk about it to the class and ask if anyone else would like to do it?” Instead of there being a stigma for adding the Velcro, it became a casual, “This is what I’m doing. Would anyone else like to join me?” The other kids didn’t think much about it and some other kids added Velcro to their desks, too.

If your child needs something to help her get through the school day, ask the teacher how best to handle it. You could bring ten items to your child’s classroom and have the teacher rotate who gets to use them. Your child can always be a recipient and it’ll be something special the whole class gets to use.

Activities that Suit Your Child Build Confidence and Decrease Anxiety

Helping My Child With Anxiety Handle Our Move

Find an activity that your child enjoys in your new city.

When Samantha and Adam decided to move to the suburbs, they knew that they were moving to a sporty town. They also knew that Andrew preferred doing things other than sports. They searched for activities that Andrew would enjoy. Teachers praised Andrew for his artistic talents, so Samantha signed him up for art camp. Andrew also loved cub scouts, chess club, and karate. Samantha knew that the best thing for Andrew was not to push him into soccer or hockey simply because that’s what other kids in the neighborhood were doing. Samantha feels so proud of Andrew for starting all over in a new town. Despite any anxieties Andrew felt about moving, he is thriving and more confident than ever.

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