Whether you are a new family joining the Day School or a returning family and your child has just transitioned to a different classroom, the beginning of a new school year is often full of mixed emotions. Change, and all that comes with it, is tough stuff even for the most resilient adult! If your child is crying, clinging to you, or generally breaks your heart each morning at drop-off, be assured that this is a normal phase and you are not alone. Your child is experiencing separation anxiety. Young children experience their world through emotions and relationships, and transitions like this temporarily rock their world... and yours!
The following tips will help you reduce separation anxiety as you navigate this season:
Avoid being in a rush. To reduce stress for everyone, allow plenty of time to get ready at home and for traffic, parking, and arrival at school. Children take their cues from you.
Be positive. Your child can sense your emotions. Be aware of your own level of anxiety about separating from your child and take time to care for yourself; prayer, meditation, calming music, and deep breathing help bring calm and sense of peace. A calm, confident attitude will help reassure your little one that everything will be okay.
Develop a goodbye ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as coming in the same door, greeting the teachers and other children, waving through a window, or blowing a goodbye kiss. Predictability breeds comfort.
Be consistent and try not to give in. Reassure your child that he or she will be just fine. Setting limits will help the adjustment to separation. Once you leave, don’t come back. He may cry for a while, but this is your child’s opportunity to bond with teachers. It usually only takes a few minutes for the crying to subside.
Keep it short and sweet. Hug and kiss your child goodbye, say “I love you and will be back”, and then go. Your child understands that you will be leaving soon, so lingering only delays the separation and creates confusion and anxiety for your child. This part is hardest on the parent, as your child will be loved on and comforted by teachers and will quickly become distracted by friends, fun, and learning.
How may we serve you? Depending on your child’s age, separation anxiety may be brief, may last a few weeks, and may come and go. We know it is hard being a parent and leaving your little child in the arms of someone new. We know exactly how you feel because we’ve been there, most of us personally, and all of us professionally. So if you are still worried when you get home, or to work, please call. Most of the time, the tears have dried and your child has joined in an activity before you have even exited the building. Please let us know how you are doing and let us know how we may help. We are here to support you as well as your child!