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Stressed About a New School

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: About a year ago we moved back to our home state of Texas. So my kids had to change schools when we moved here, which was difficult on my oldest daughter. But the difficulty for her has been that we relocated to another town this summer, meaning she is going into yet another school. She is very stressed out about going to her new school. She is going into the 8th grade. We talk about her fears and she talks via the Net to her cousin about her feelings. All of this helps, but I wonder if you can offer any additional suggestions for easing her fears. I moved a lot as a kid so I can relate to how she feels. Thanks, in advance, for your response.

A: Moving to a new school and being the new kid is almost always an anxiety-producing situation. Many kids in this situation, however, are far from shunned socially, rather they are sought out by kids wanting to be the friend of the new kid. At your daughter's age, where different social groups often have been established, she may even be "fought over" for inclusion into these groups. So the new kid does not always "walk alone," nor is she usually ignored.

Beyond joining school extracurricular activities based on her interests, she could think about joining religious, civic, volunteer or recreational organizations where she would meet other kids her age.

Being in the eighth grade is a tough year for kids under the best of situations. These are roller coaster years and you should keep those communication lines open with her as you are now. Keeping in touch with her former friends, while bittersweet, is still a good idea and let's her know everything in her old life has not died with the move. It's also important to know that being a good listener, as opposed to talking a lot or attempting to get known quickly, is an important friendship-building attribute. Everyone, including kids this age, appreciates someone who values their opinions and problems--your daughter could be one of those who fits that bill.

I wish you all a successful school year.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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