Stressed about school

Overcome shyness and timidity with lots of support and encouragement.

MY daughter is in Year One. She is very shy and worries a lot. She cries every morning without fail as she always has something to worry about.

During the first few days of school, she was scared and my husband and I took leave to be with her. We tried to help her to adapt to the new environment.

Today, I received a phone call from her school asking me to take her home as she had fever. When I arrived at her school, her class teacher told me that when she checked my daughter’s forehead, it did not seem like she had any fever.

I knew my daughter was lying to me because she was afraid to attend Chinese class. I was very disappointed and angry with her.

My daughter has a full week with tuition classes in different subjects. This year, she has one extra tuition class – Bahasa Malaysia.

Am I putting too much pressure on her? I want my daughter to be happy. She’s just six-plus, and she worries so much. I’m worried that she may have a breakdown one day. – Worried Mother

Starting formal schooling is a stressful time for children. Shyness is normal when the social expectations are new. It can be a problem for your daughter who worries about meeting new people and being in new places.

Your daughter’s daily schedule with after-school tuition looks overwhelming. Children need a balance of leisure, rest and structured learning. They also need quiet time to find balance within themselves and to digest everything that is happening around them.

Children who are over-worked and tired may not be able to express themselves properly. Your daughter’s fear of meeting new teachers and starting new classes shows that she needs help.

You may want to consider whether all the tuition classes are necessary. The more classes you schedule for her, the more she realises that she is incapable of doing well. She may fear doing badly in school and facing the teachers’ wrath.

Maybe she needs more time to play and be a child. Let her show off what she is good at. This will boost her confidence. Rather than telling her what to do all the time, let her take the lead and make suggestions.

It is futile to impose your will on your child to change her behaviour. No amount of scolding or threats can make her feel any better about school. Your daughter needs your guidance, instead of learning to submit to your will.

To help her, you can start by focusing on what is really important for her.

You have been focusing on her academic learning, and putting a heavy workload on her. Starting school means learning to deal with new emotions. Your daughter has to know how to deal with social expectations.

For starters, she must feel good about herself. Help her to sort out her feelings by listening to her. Accept and acknowledge her feelings. There is more to school than just teachers and school subjects. If you are more relaxed with her, she will also feel less anxious.

Focus on what she is doing right in school and encourage her by highlighting her strengths.

Stressed about school – By Ruth Liew –