Separation Anxiety: Transferring the Trust
by Keri Isacovici
One of the hardest things to do as a parent is let your child go off on his or her own. (No matter how big they seem to get!) As the Director of Early Childhood , I have seen first hand the value of having staff who are ready to help and support a child’s transition into preschool, and ultimately, earn your trust in that process. Below are some tools to help make any tough “goodbye” turn into smiles- and a “see you later” attitude!
1) Don’t Even Go In the Room – “From a teacher’s perspective, it also helps if parents don’t walk into the classroom during the first few weeks of school. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s not meant to! It helps delineate home from school. It also really helps with separation for both parents and children. At the preschool where I work, we have a carline, so the teachers walk the kids into the school and out of school (loading and unloading the children). This makes the transition so much easier for the children. Yes, there are tears sometimes, but not nearly as often when parents walk into the classroom the first week or so of school.” Mary Catherine of Fun-A-Day!
2) Check Your Emotions – “As a former kindergarten teacher I completely agree with Mary Catherine! I might also add that parents should try to be as positive as possible during drop off, too. Kids definitely sense parents’ anxiety and sadness, and this can make the transition into the classroom even more difficult for the child.” Shaunna of Fantastic Fun and Learning.
3) Let Them Walk In – “Act confident and be joyful for your child!! If you are hesitant of letting go and insecure kids WILL pick up on that. Make sure they walk into school (not carried). When they are carried in it might send the message that you are hesitant.” Tricia of Imprints from Tricia
4) Don’t Linger – “Before departing from the door, give a quick kiss or hug, maybe a silly song or funny handshake to say goodbye, but don’t linger. And if your child is crying, know that 99% of the time kids are feeling better and actively engaged in the classroom within moments.” Shaunna of Fantastic Fun and Learning
5) Park away from your child’s classroom – Teachers are working hard to help your child feel welcome and engaged in the classroom. If your child sees your car parked outside or you standing by your car waving “goodbye”, he/she will wonder why you aren’t coming in to get him/her, and ultimately, become anxious for a longer period of time. Keri Isacovici, Director of Early Childhood at the Northwest Family Center
6) Give Praise – “Rewards! Rewards! Rewards! Not only did things like ice cream or a special toy work for making it to the car without tears, to the classroom without tears and through the day/week, but VERBAL rewards. Silly celebrations and top of your lungs ‘YOU DID IT’s’ -verbal support is KEY!” Tiffany of Timeless Adventures
7) Make Sure They Know What to Expect – “My best tool for reducing anxiety with any situation for my three year-old is preparing him for what will happen so that there are no surprises. Read books about preschool. Talk to him about what it will be like. Let him know that I won’t be staying with him and how the drop off process goes.” Jennifer of The Good Long Road
8) Read Children’s Books – “Here are some books [that help]. The Kissing Hand is a classic book and can be wonderful for young kids going to school for the first time. The Invisible String is also wonderful. It’s a great way to teach the concept of being connected even when we are physically separated.” Laura of Play Dr. Mom
9) Try The Kissing Hand – “We read a book called The Kissing Hand. After that, when I would drop off my daughter, I would kiss the palm of her hand, and she knew my love was close by. She would kiss mine too in case I started to miss her.” Allison of The House of Hendrix
10) Wear A Special Bracelet – “After being with my daughter everyday, all day for her first 5 years of life she started Kindergarten about 3 weeks ago… The first week was incredibly hard on her. [One thing that helps is that] she wears a bracelet for me and one for dad, when she misses us it reminds her we are thinking about her.” Tiffany of Timeless Adventures