Pailine Nimmo offers advice on a common problem for parents
Our 11-year-old daughter is starting secondary school in August and is looking forward to it. More than I am, I can tell you. She has refused a lift and says she will be walking with her friends – no discussion. We know what she is like. They will forget the time and be late for school. What if she doesn’t watch the road? Taking her would make us feel much better but she gets upset when her mum and I raise it. We dare not bring it up again as we don’t want it to ruin it all.
This fight is one that has been fought many times in many homes for many years. It probably seems so simple on either side. Your daughter wants her independence and you want to protect your child.
The concerns you have are valid and you may have to speak to your daughter so she understands the importance of your worries. Communication is key, and you need to tell her there will be some discussion, especially around road safety. On the other hand, she has to learn to get to school in time and watch the roads to make her way in life as an adult. Let her tell you all the things she is looking forward to about high school and keep that positive note. The chances are when the novelty wears off or she doesn’t want to get wet she’ll be begging for a lift.
My son is due to go to primary school after the summer and I am worried about lots of things, including that he will not settle. He is the kind of boy who can’t sit still and can be quite noisy. I’m worried he’ll not do as the teacher tells him and that he won’t stay in his chair.
He also takes ages to eat his lunch and I’m afraid he’ll get left behind or even go hungry. He is our first one to start school. I feel he’s too small to understand but don’t know what to do. I can handle him – it’s others that may have trouble. I want to look forward to his big day and help him settle but I can’t.
These worries are common and I will hazard a guess that there are many parents feeling the same way. There may be different worries for each parent as children are different, but they all come from the same place: their wee ones are going to school.
It is very often the case that children behave differently at home and at school, and at the first parents’ evening you might ask yourself if the teacher is actually talking about your child. There will be discipline there and teachers who are well used to noisy, restless boys. As for the lunch worry, he will most likely see all the others finishing up and this should spur him on – especially if he is losing play time by taking too long at lunch.
It is also worth remembering that your boy may be an example to another child who is struggling in some other way. It is hard to let your first one go, but by the time your next child starts school you will hopefully be more relaxed. School staff are usually helpful when it comes to settling in, so do not hesitate to speak to them if you are worried. Also, if there are any concerns from their end they should bring it to your attention and you can tackle things together. It probably won’t be long until you are looking back and wondering what you were worried about.
Pauline Nimmo is a registered family mediator and contact centre manager at Relationships Scotland, South Lanarkshire
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