It's hard for everyone involved - the clinging, the crying - all sure signs of separation anxiety. While this behavior is totally normal, it certainly isn't easy for parents, children or caregivers. Here are some tips for easing separation anxiety in children when dropping them off at child care or school:
- Before a child's first day, talk to their caregiver or teacher and come up with a plan for your goodbye routine. Being consistent is crucial - routines are important for easing separation anxiety.
- Always say goodbye, even if it's hard for both of you, as sneaking out can make a children's anxiety worse.
- Take a breath and stay calm - children are often able to sense anxiety.
- Shorter good-byes are easier. Give your child a hug, say good-bye and allow the teacher to take over. You can ask in advance if the center or school could call or text you to let you know how the child is doing a little while after you leave.
- Give your child a piece of you to keep all day. For example, you could tie a special string bracelet around your child's wrist, then kiss it and say something like, "I'm filling this with my love." When your child is feeling sad or missing you, he/she can touch the bracelet to get an instant reminder of a loved one.
- Read classic books that tackle separation anxiety, like Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Misses Mama or Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand. Once your child knows the story, say something like, "I always come back, just like Mama Llama does."
Source: "8 Smart Ways to Ease Daycare and Preschool Separation Anxiety." What to Expect, What to Expect Foundation, 14 Feb. 2019, www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/photo-gallery/ease-daycare-and-preschool-separation-anxiety.aspx.