Tips for dealing with separation anxiety
Do you have a child who’s struggling with separation anxiety, especially at when being dropped off at school or early education? Perhaps they’re going through a developmental milestone that makes them need Mum or Dad a bit more than before. This is common starting around six months of age, peaks at 14-18 months, then can happen again when your child hits preschool and school-age. Or maybe your child is new to our service or has recently transitioned studios. The transition from home to early education is a milestone for both children and families. Separation anxiety can even happen for children who’ve been in Little Scholars for a while. It can be hard moving into a new studio where she or he doesn’t yet know new routines, where things are kept and spending time with different educators with different ways of doing things can be overwhelming for the child. This is all normal.
If you’re at a loss on how to make things easier on your little one, and yourself, we have some ideas.
Our tips for drop-off
1 – Don’t sneak away 🏃♂️ We know you’re trying to prevent tears, but sneaking away creates anxiety and mistrust for your child
2 – Keep goodbyes short 🙋♀️ There’s a saying that goes, ‘quick goodbyes make for dry eyes’
3 – Be aware of your own emotions 😭 🙅♂️ – When you’re calm and confident, that tells your child that s/he is safe. Young children rely on co-regulation to manage their emotions.
Acknowledge and validate their feelings by saying something like “I know goodbyes can be hard, but I always come back. I will see you later today. I love you.” Give a big hug, a smile and a wink.
Talk it out
Then at home, if your child is old enough, have a chat about why she/he is having a hard time at drop-off, and think about what you can do to alleviate it. Ask him or her what make things easier. Perhaps it’s including a comfort toy, blanket or family photo. Maybe you each have a special bracelet that you can touch when you’re missing each other. Make a plan for something special together when you pick him or her up, like a walk or playing a game together, which will give your child something to look forward to through the day.
Prepare in advance
If you’re preparing your child to go to early education or school, it’s best they understand what their days will look like. So the conversation could look something like ‘we’ll all have breakfast together and get ready for the day. Then we’ll get in the car and first we’ll stop at Little Scholars. I’ll walk you in, give you a big hug, and you’ll go off to have a day of play while I go to work. When I finish work, I’ll jump in the car and come right over to pick you up, then we’ll go _____” These conversations may have to happen several times for it to sink in.
Also, if you’re pondering signing your child up for early education, this is why we offer play dates to children newly enroled but yet to start – this allows them to begin to become familiar with their new educators and studios.
Remember, you can always chat with your educator or campus manager about how to help. We’re always available, and we’ve been through this before, we can offer ideas or reassurances everyone will be OK!
We also know separation anxiety can be a two-way street, especially for new parents, or returning to work after maternity leave. Don’t forget we have our Little Scholars app so you can see pictures of your child, and be reassured that if there were tears from your child, they likely didn’t last long and they’re busy having fun and learning while you’re at work.