Amanda Brunker: 'Bribery is a great trick for both kids and adults'
Whoever said school was the happiest time of our lives was an awful liar.
If you agree with that statement, you have my sympathies.
School days are just a mere blip on our life map (if we're lucky), and if they are the best 14 years of your existence, well… life is pretty much a downhill spiral once you leave. Now that is a depressing thought!
Last week, I had lunch with comedian Deirdre O'Kane (she'd probably prefer me to call her actress, but it's a blurred line and she's doing a stand-up tour at the moment, so feck it). Anyhow, she has only just returned to Dublin after about nine years in London and her kids (her English kids) were due to start school here yesterday. Which got me thinking; if your child needed to change schools, how would you help them cope?
Let's face it, it's probably one of the most life-changing things that could happen to a child, after say, their parents splitting up or a close relative dying. School takes up the majority of their day, so if they're miserable there, it's going to result in an exhausted, stressed-out kid. Which is not what anyone wants.
Establishing new friends and leaving behind old ones can be heartbreaking. If you've a different accent that can be immeasurably more difficult, but you only need one child out of a whole class to bond with yours to make the move easier. And, during the primary school years anyway, kids change best friends like they do sweatshirts. It can be dizzying at times, so your new kid could be lucky and step straight into welcome arms and a handful of news besties instantly.
There a few key tips that can help with kids changing schools. Firstly, don't be overly sensitive yourself about the transition and get them all stressed out about it. If you're calm and cool about it, that'll help tame their anxieties - in theory! Like those parents who cry on their child's first day at school; seriously folks, you're not helping matters!
Obviously, you need to thoroughly discuss their worries with them and boost their confidence with plenty of compliments and reassurances of what a great kid they are. But do not make unreasonable promises. Telling them every kid in the school will want to be their friend is just setting your kid up for a fall. Sure, we often have to tell them a few white lies to get them in the door, but don't set them up for disappointment. It's not fair.
As with most parenting issues, be it correct or not, I don't care - I find bribery always a great trick with kids. And if I'm honest, with adults too!
Anyway, sending your kid off to a new school with a rucksack full of fairy cakes for the class (and teacher) can't hurt. An early invite for a play date to the kid that gives them half a smile is another charm offensive that could work to their advantage.
Or sending your son or daughter into school with the coolest trainers, jacket or hairstyle (fill in your own suggestions here) is another crafty way of getting them noticed and kids interested in them.
Remember, a change in school is a huge deal for your kid… so support, support, support!