10 Tips for Easing your Preschooler's Separation Anxiety
Preschool separation anxiety is tough. These activities are supposed to be fun for your child and provide a little bit of freedom for you. Whether starting a new preschool or attending your child's first Preschool Gymnastics class, getting through the separation is worth it. However, it’s hard to leave your little one when they're crying and clinging to you. And even if you do get through the “good-bye”, you’re faced with going through the same experience the next day or week, and it could get worse. Often times it’s a phase and it too shall pass. In the meantime, here's a few tips for making those good-bye moments a little easier.
1. Make It Quick
This is the simplest tip AND the hardest to do. Give your child a quick goodbye, a kiss or hug. Don’t drag out your departure thinking that your child will miraculously start smiling and be happy. Keep it quick and simple and know that she’ll be smiling and settled in a matter of minutes.
2. Trust Your Child’s Teacher
Your child’s teacher knows children and they’ve most likely been through this many times before. They’ve got plenty of tricks up their sleeves and they’re prepared for calming your little one down.
3. A “Good-Bye” Routine
Children love a routine so give them something to look forward to. Perhaps a secret handshake or high-five. Try doing a nose-to-nose rub or kiss on the hand. Whatever it is, make it special and something you do every time you say good-bye.
4. Confront Head On
The best way to deal with separation anxiety is to never give up and remember that this is an opportunity for your child to learn how to work through negative feelings. Consistency is key.
5. Change Is Good
We as parents all know this; children often behave better for other people than they do for us. Try having a grandparent or friend handle the drop off for a few days and see if this doesn’t help.
6. Bring That Favorite Lovey
Sometimes it helps to bring a little bit of “home” with your child. Together, pick out a small stuffed animal, a photo, or even a little note for their pocket. It’s just a little something they can look at and be comforted by.
7. Stay Positive
Don’t let your child see that their separation anxiety is getting to you. Stay positive, smile, and remind them how much fun they’re going to have.
8. Time Is Important
Try to be a few minutes early. This extra time to relax, be comfortable, and do your good-bye routine will make that whole transition so much easier. And don’t forget timeliness on pick-up. It’s easy to lose track of time but being late even once can cause your child even more anxiety the next time you say good-bye.
9. Talk Through Emotions
Be open and honest with your child. Ask them how they’re feeling and don’t downplay their fears. Tell them a story about a situation that made you feel scared or worried about something, and how you handled it. Discuss why going to school or an activity is important and reemphasize how much fun they’ll have.
10. Preparation is Important
Before starting school or a new activity, talk to your child about the process and prepare her for what to expect. Take time to do an on-site visit or even read a few books about starting school, etc. The more information your child has, the more empowered she will feel.