First Grade Blues: Helping Our Kids Handle Anxiety

First Grade Blues: Helping Our Kids Handle Anxiety

As I flipped to the next page of the kitchen calendar, my daughter burst into tears.

Literal tears.

“This summer is going too fast,” she cried. “I don’t want to turn seven. I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to go to first grade…”

I stared across the table at her and watched, bewildered, as she buried her face in her hands.


August had arrived.

And I knew just how she felt.

August is our family’s big month. We have named it “Family Month” because it’s the month when everything happens. Our wedding anniversary. Both kids’ birthdays. Multiple other birthdays and anniversaries in the extended family. Every weekend comes with another celebration. Everywhere I look, there are balloons, streamers, wrapping paper, and way too much sugar.

And in the midst of all this celebration, we scramble to get ready for school.

In the past week, my email inbox has been flooded with teacher introductions, bus schedules, medical forms, and classroom supply lists.

I have a million errands to run. Cakes to bake. Lunches to plan. Presents to wrap. Papers to sign. New names to memorize.

August is a month of chaos. I constantly have to remind myself to slow. down. and. breathe.

Meanwhile, my daughter is getting herself all worked up.

“I don’t want to go to first grade. I don’t want to get my name on the board…”

I sympathize with her. We are two of a kind: both introverts, both highly sensitive, and both excessive worriers. If August is overwhelming for me, I can only imagine how she must be feeling.

After all, this is a big year for her.

First grade is a major transition from half day kindergarten. To say she is nervous about it would be an understatement. She has, in fact, been talking about it with considerable dread since last February.

“I don’t think I can be good all day,” she moans. “I don’t want to get in trouble…”

Lately, we’ve been having some full-scale meltdowns.

She needs help. A mental reset.

And if I’m honest, I think I need one, too.

Being a mom is hard.

For me, one of the hardest parts is watching my kids wrestle with fear.

It’s so tempting to think that, with just the right words, I can make them feel better. But deep down, I know it doesn’t work that way.

I can’t fix my daughter’s fear with words.

And it’s not my job.

My job is not to shield her from worry; it’s to teach her how to manage it.

It is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood. I definitely don’t get it right most days. But on a good day, it involves the following:


Asking questions. Why is this so scary? What do you think will happen if you get your name on the board? (”Mommy will be mad at me,” she answers tearfully. Man, I must be a terrible parent!)

Praying about it together.

Equipping her with a new strategy. Did you know that you can change the way you feel by changing what you think about? Let’s make a list of Good Things About First Grade.

And finally, encouraging her to move forward. Focus on the present. Enjoy what each day brings, rather than worrying about what’s around the corner.

Our thoughts really do affect our feelings.

Already, my daughter’s mood seems lighter.

And mine does, too.

Because, if I’m honest, I needed this lesson as much as she did.

I need to keep learning it over and over again.

Especially in August.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.