When the excitement, nervousness, and activity of starting a new school year have settled down, it is time to create a strong foundation to help your child have a successful school experience. Your child is still taking his cues from you, his parents; if you remain calm, reassuring, optimistic, and supportive, your child will feel both confident and competent.

It is important to remember that even though your child may have been in school for a week or two, he may still experience separation anxiety – and so may you, his parents. Therefore, it is so important for you to take the lead and parent – not burdening your child with your own anxieties. Be honest with your child, talk to him about his fears, and listen with empathy. Children will tell you everything.

  • Don’t over-program your child with activities. Allow him time for homework, and allow free time to play and work off steam.
  • Maintain open lines of communication with your child’s teacher, the school nurse, the guidance counselor, and the principal. Show both your interest and your goodwill. Tell them of any concerns you have in regard to your child’s health, and keep in regular contact with them regarding any learning problems your child may have.
  • Send your child to school with a picture of you and your spouse or a family picture – including siblings. This can be a touchstone that he can reach for when feeling uncomfortable or insecure.
  • Stick to a consistent routine, especially with your child’s bedtime schedule, to ensure that your child gets at least ten hours of sleep at night. As an adult, you know how cranky you can get when you are tired, and the same situation exists for your child. Remember that he doesn’t have your coping skills.
  • Be reliable; be on time throughout the school year. It is important to take your child to school each day… whenever possible, and it is important to be on time. And that means leaving enough space for a good breakfast, a good visit, and no rushing. Further, be there to pick him up at the end of school each day, again, whenever possible, so that he can count on you to show up when you say you will. This builds self-actualization in your child. If he can count on you, he will count on himself, and he will learn to trust others.
  • Safety first is a very important part of your child’s school year, including teaching your child, in advance, the proper way to deal with bullies, including reporting them to either a teacher or counselor… when necessary. In addition, you want your child to know traffic safety, as well as physical safety. That means to partner with your neighbors and the school to give age-appropriate and balanced information to your child about strangers, and how to protect himself. A young child should know his name, how to spell it, his home telephone number, and the number of a safe and responsible adult that is designated by you, and your partner.
  • Talk with your child about his feelings and invite him to participate in a conversation that gives him some sense of control. Never embarrass, discount, or demean your child’s feelings. Ask him what things you and he can do together to ensure a pleasant school experience throughout the year. This is my empathic process that I created to help parents and children communicate. By using my empathic process, you can invest your child in the discussion, and as a result, he will be more likely to have a positive outcome and go happily to school.

It is important to be honest with your child and tell him that you also will miss him, when he’s at school, but that you look forward to your daily talks, hearing all about his new and exciting experiences. Be empathetic, be compassionate, and be firm. Nurture your child, meet his needs, and be reliable. You can’t spoil your child with love.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.