Separation anxiety is a child’s way of saying, “I love you and I will miss you.” While it can tug at your hearts to leave your little ones, please know that developing a solid drop-off routine will build independence and confidence.
Here are a few tips to help you and your child manage your drop-off routine quickly and peacefully:
- Be reassuring, but be brief! When your child whines or cries that she doesn’t want to go to school, respond with brief statements of understanding, reassurance, and a big hug! But don’t dwell on their reactions. Focusing too much on their whining and crying can actually serve to reinforce their behavior, and make it more frequent!
- Keep your good-byes short and sweet. In doing so, you convey the message that you have confidence in your child’s ability to cope. Once you have said goodbye, please don’t linger around or noticeably peek back into the room…your child will sense your anxiety, and this will make it more difficult for her to calm down. It is best not to sneak out. You want your child to know that she can trust you.
- Don’t bargain or bribe your child to behave. It is important that your child has an opportunity to work through these feelings.
- Develop a loving good-bye routine such as waving goodbye through the window or a special kiss goodbye. Once the routine is over, say goodbye and leave quickly without creating a secondary “just one more…” routine. Coming back again and again increases anxiety and stress and does not impart your confidence in their ability to cope.
- If you hand your child off directly to the teacher, please do so with loving words and a kiss goodbye. Once the child has been transferred, it is time to leave them in the care of the teacher. Demonstrate your confidence in the teacher to your child. Children get mixed messages and feel more anxious when they transfer back and forth between parent and teacher.
- Allow your child to bring a favorite stuffed animal or family photo to act as a reminder of family and home. They can cuddle it until they are adjusted and then we can assist them in keeping it “safe” in their cubby for the day.
- Talk with the teacher and develop a plan together. You need someone on the other end who will greet your child and ease the transition. We are happy to help!
- Invite children from the preschool over, so your child can form friendships that will make the transition easier.
- Don’t be surprised if you solve the problem and it reoccurs after holidays and sick days. They have adapted to being home, so a short readjustment to school should be expected.
- Remember separation anxiety means that a strong and loving bond exists between you and your child. There is nothing more important than your child and we appreciate that you entrust us each and every day with your precious little one.