It's not always easy to get anywhere on time with little kids, but it's worth making an extra effort to be prompt on school days. "A child may feel like an outsider if the others are already there, engaged in activities," says Marilyn Gootman, author of The Loving Parent's Guide to Discipline.
Diane Max, a mother of three in New York City, finds it can be hard for her son, Jonah, now in kindergarten, to cross the threshold if the classroom is already bustling. "It's much easier for him if we get there a bit early," she says -- especially on "high-risk" shyness days, such as the beginning of the school year and the first days back after vacation or illness.
Being on time at the end of the day is just as important. Standing alone while the other kids are happily reuniting with loved ones can cause a young child to worry that by going to school, she risks losing you -- or getting lost.
"My kids hate it when I'm late," says Susan Schwartz, a mother of four in Winchester, MA. Once, she was in such a rush to pick up her daughter from preschool that she got a speeding ticket. By the time she arrived, her daughter was wailing, "You're the last mommy!" Schwartz wouldn't recommend risking a ticket, but her experience taught her that it's worth trying to arrange your schedule to be punctual. When you're not, apologize and let your child talk about how she feels, since the fear and anger loom larger if they're kept bottled up.