Separation anxiety is a little ones way of saying how much they really don't want to say good-bye. Most preschoolers experience it at some point in their early lives. Sometimes it occurs out of the blue after a change in the environment and they feel a sense of uncertainty about leaving home. Most often however, separation anxiety is purely a "missing mom" issue. Follow these 15 strategies and you may be able to minimize the problem too.
- Do: 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.
- Don't: Hover. Your child will sense your anxiety, and this will make it more difficult for her to calm down.
- Do: Tuck a family picture or a loving reminder away in your child's backpack for her to look at later in the day.
- Don't: Sneak out. You want your child to know unequivocally that she can trust you.
- Do: Develop loving good-bye routines.
- Don't: bargain or bribe your child to behave. Your little one should be allowed her feelings.
- Do: Send clear messages. Your child needs to know that you expect him to go to school no matter how much he fusses, cries or stamp his feet.
- Don't: Take your school age children home. If you do, you send the message that if your child cries enough they won't have to stay.
- Do: Invite children from the class over, so your child can forge friendships that will make the transition easier.
- Don't: Get upset. By keeping an upbeat and positive attitude about your child's school, teacher and friends, you'll help your child feel safe and enjoy his time at school.
- Do: Ask your spouse or another family member to drop your child off, or pick up one of your child's classmates on the way to school, and your problems may disappear with lighting speed.
- Don't: Discuss problems with the teacher in the morning Save conversations and questions for the end of the day.
- Do: Involve the teacher. You need someone on the other end who will greet your child and ease the transition.
- Don't: Be surprised if you solve the problem and it reoccurs after holidays and sick days.
- Do: Believe in your child's ability to make positive changes.
Remember separation anxiety means a strong and loving bond must exist between you and your child.