I remember when Brayden was a one year old and many of my friends had children starting Kindergarten. I remember them talking about the attitude that crept up.
Flash forward to when Brayden started Kindergarten. Pretty quickly, he started an attitude. It was an attitude of that seemed to be saying, "I have now realized that I can be independent of the home. I have also realized I am pretty smart, and that there are other smart people besides you, mom and dad."
I recalled those days when Brayden was young and consulted with my friends with older children. Was this normal? Did you see this happening with your child? I got a response 100% in the affirmative.
I don't remember exactly when he snapped out of it, but I do know that by first grade, it was gone. I think maybe first grade is a bit more humbling. Kindergartners are more protected from the big kids of the school (at least with half day kindergarten). In first grade, they eat lunch with the big kids, have recesses with the big kids, and all around realize they aren't so big after all.
Now let's flash forward to Kaitlyn. Her Kindertude has been more magnified than Brayden's. Hers has extended into being very impatient at times with younger siblings (ahem, McKenna) at home. Not only does she have the "I am so smart" thing going on, but she puts more pressure on herself to be perfectly behaved. She is also very aware of proper social manners, where Brayden is pretty oblivious, and I think it is exhausting for her to be so "on" for school. So far as I am aware, Kaitlyn hasn't made one social mistake at school. She is on her best behavior at all times. Her teacher is always telling me how great she is, helpful she is, good she is...I think she just gets tired.
So why does this happen? I don't know exactly, but I can give some ideas:
- Here is an interesting thing. Neither of my children had this issue in preschool. Both went to preschool three days a week for several hours each day and never picked up the "kindertude." So I think part of this must be caused by it being an age thing. In other words, it is partially developmental.
- You child realizes there is a big world outside the home. Her world is expanding and she is figuring out how to manage all of that in her head.
- Your child is starting to grow up, but still wrestling with the desire to just be a kid. She wants to be more grown up, but wants to be (and IS) a kid. The good side of this transition is your child will learn to be more responsible and will be more responsible at home if you encourage, comment on, and thank for that behavior.
- Outside influence. There are always those things kids can pick up from other kids. My children have yet to come home with some major issue they have picked up. They are small things. I take it as an opportunity to reinforce what they have learned in the home and to teach the importance of "right is right even if no one else is doing it."
- Feeling "wise in her own eyes." Your child might feel like a big girl now that she does this all important thing of leaving the house each day.
What can you do about it?
- Have some patience. To an extent, this is normal for the age. That doesn't mean you let her talk back to you or be grumpy at home. It just means you don't take it personally and don't freak out that your child is morphing into something.
- Maintain structure at home. Still have independent playtime when able, rest time when able, chores each day. Keep a routine at home.
- Have free play. In your routine, make time for creative and free play. Your child will not have a lot of play at school, so make sure you have that in her day so she is well-balanced.
- Encourage childhood. Keep your expectations of your child appropriate for her age. Remember the funnel. Keep her in her funnel. Make sure she knows you are okay with her being a child right now.
- Teach her well at home so she is less inclined to pick up on bad habits. When she does, gently remind her of appropriate behavior.
- Talk to her about her day. Spend some time with her each day when she comes home (or as soon as you can after she comes home) talking about what she did and how she felt. Many times, children are more willing to talk if you are doing another activity, like folding laundry, washing dishes, baking cookies, coloring, etc. It is less intimidating than sitting and being stared down by a parent.
- Remind your child when her behavior is not okay. Be compassionate, "I know you are very tired from being at school, but you do not get to treat your sister that way." Remember to be positive, directive, and to use the virtue rather than the vice. Here are some related posts: Teach What is Right, Not Just What is Wrong, Childwise Principle Four: Instill Morality and Behavior Will Follow, and The Golden Rule (and the Platinum Rule).
Your child will not keep the Kindertude forever. As she gets older, realizes she isn't so "big" after-all, and as you guide her through it, she will get back to her normal self.