The below is from Smart Love publications Q&A books. You can visit the website at www.smartlovefamily.org and sign up for the free monthly enews. The below questions was from last month's enews and I think very close to where you might be at with your son. We also have a great discussion board which you can reach and join via the website. I hope this helps!
My child is scared of school
Q: My five-year-old is starting kindergarten this fall. Previously he
was in preschool for a few hours a week, but the kindergarten is all-day.
When we try to talk to him about how much fun he will have in his new
school and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Sometimes he walks out of the
room or puts his hands over his ears. We also notice that he is having
many more nightmares than usual and seems very easily upset during
day. We wonder if these behaviors are related to his starting school,
and if so what we can do to help him since he doesn’t seem to want to
talk about it.
You are correct. Your son’s behavior is related to his worries about start-
ing kindergarten. The problem is that you are trying to talk your son into
looking forward to starting school by telling him how much fun he will
have, rather than trying to find out what is worrying him. As a result, he
feels he is doing something wrong when he can’t adopt your positive
attitude. So he wants to avoid all discussion of the situation.
We suggest that you change course. Tell him you recognize he has concerns
about going to kindergarten and that this is normal- many children worry
about starting a new school. Add that worries can be expressed in bad
dreams and upset feelings. If you show your son that you are comfortable
with the notion that he may be dreading school, he will probably feel more
comfortable discussing his concerns. It might help to
ask the librarian at your local library to suggest age-appropriate books
about children who imagine that school will be unpleasant.
Once your son opens up and tells you what he fears, be careful not to
contradict him (“We’ve met the teacher and she is very nice,” or “That’s silly,
of course the other children will like you.”) Rather, let him know how
great it is that he is communicating his fears and that if anything does go
wrong at school he can come right home and tell you and you will help
him figure out a way to handle the problem. Fears don’t go away because
someone tells you not to worry - what is reassuring is to know that if what
you dread happens, you have someone to turn to who can help you. Once
school starts, leave some quiet time every day - perhaps when you are putting
your son to bed - to ask him how his day went. Make sure you give him
an opportunity to tell you about the bad as well as the good.
answered by Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D., and William J. Pieper, M.D., and is described in their book, Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative to Discipline That Will Make You a Better Parent and Your Child a Better Person, (Harvard Common Press, 1999).