Moms & Teachers Share Tips on Separation Anxiety in Children
‘Tis that time of year. Time for Back to School, new beginnings, and separation anxiety. I’ve been seeing some fellow moms crying out for help and advice on Facebook and other social media outlets, so I thought I’d check with our B-Inspired Blogger moms and B-Inspired Facebook Fans, too. Here are their “been there, done that” tips for dealing with separation anxiety in children…
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15 Ways to Conquer Separation Anxiety in Children
- Make Sure They Know What to Expect – “My best tool for reducing anxiety with any situation for my three year-old is preparing him for what will happen so that there are no surprises. Read books about preschool. Talk to him about what it will be like. Let him know that I won’t be staying with him and how the drop off process goes.” Jennifer of The Good Long Road
- Read Children’s Books – “Here are some books [that help]. The Kissing Hand is a classic book and can be wonderful for young kids going to school for the first time. The Invisible String is also wonderful. It’s a great way to teach the concept of being connected even when we are physically separated.” Laura of Play Dr. Mom
- Try The Kissing Hand – “We read a book called The Kissing Hand. After that, when I would drop off my daughter, I would kiss the palm of her hand, and she knew my love was close by. She would kiss mine too in case I started to miss her.” Allison of The House of Hendrix
- Plan “3 Special Steps” – “We randomly caught an episode of Special Agent Oso, which is a cartoon about a James Bond-type friendly bear, but they use ‘three special steps’ to solve problems and do basic tasks…such as getting dressed or make a salad. The three special steps is something we use now with my three year old and we can adapt it for just about any situation that causes anxiety. I think it helps to talk about the situation before it happens, and then give her small tasks to focus on while it is happening. Step one: get in the car and drive to school. Step two: walk in to class. Step three, say hello to teacher and start your day! Or if it would help to talk about mommy coming back, you could make it: Step one, go to school. Step two learn and play! Step Three Hug Mommy at the end of the day!” Laura of Lalymom
- Visit the School – “I teach preschool now, have taught kindergarten in the past, and my son started kindergarten last year. My best tips involve preparing children for the change. Visiting the new school is my #1 suggestion. It gives the child a chance to check out the environment with a loved one in a non-rushed manner. Even visiting the school’s playground over the summer helps!” Mary Catherine of Fun-A-Day!
- Wear A Special Bracelet – “After being with my daughter everyday, all day for her first 5 years of life she started Kindergarten about 3 weeks ago… The first week was incredibly hard on her. [One thing that helps is that] she wears a bracelet for me and one for dad, when she misses us it reminds her we are thinking about her.” Tiffany of Timeless Adventures
- Practice A Script – “Our nursery gave us some phrases to say to Goblin in the weeks leading up to starting nursery and on the journey to nursery. ‘We will go through the arched door, we’ll find your peg and hang up your bag, and you will find your name and post it into the orange box. And I will be back to pick you up after circle time.’ The first day of nursery everything happened just as we’d said it would. And because the drop off had happened like we said the trust was already there that we would be back ‘to pick him up after circle time.’ He settled so quickly, much quicker than he had at his other nursery.” The Monko of Taming the Goblin
- Make a Visual Schedule – “My daughters classroom didn’t have a visual schedule and of course she can’t do the whole time thing yet so I sent a visual picture schedule of her day in her backpack for her to check and look at to see how close she is to coming home throughout the day… It’s super cute and extremely easy!” Tiffany of Timeless Adventures
- Don’t Even Go In the Room – “From a teacher’s perspective, it also helps if parents don’t walk into the classroom during the first few weeks of school. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s not meant to! It helps delineate home from school. It also really helps with separation for both parents and children. At the preschool where I work, we have a car-line, so the teachers walk the kids into the school and out of school (loading and unloading the children). This makes the transition so much easier for the children. Yes, there are tears sometimes, but not nearly as often when parents walk into the classroom the first week or so of school.” Mary Catherine of Fun-A-Day!
- Check Your Emotions – “As a former kindergarten teacher I completely agree with Mary Catherine! I might also add that parents should try to be as positive as possible during drop off, too. Kids definitely sense parents’ anxiety and sadness, and this can make the transition into the classroom even more difficult for the child.” Shaunna of Fantastic Fun and Learning
- Let Them Walk In – “Act confident and be joyful for your child!! If you are hesitant of letting go and insecure kids WILL pick up on that. Make sure they walk into school (not carried). When they are carried in it might send the message that you are hesitant.” Tricia of Imprints from Tricia
- Sing a Goodbye Song – “What worked for us was to wait a little till she was ready to go. Sometimes I had to ask the teacher for help. Another way to deal with separation anxiety was to have a special goodbye song after which she knew I had to go.” Olga of The European Mama
- Don’t Linger – “Before departing from the door, give a quick kiss or hug, maybe a silly song or funny handshake to say goodbye, but don’t linger. And if your child is crying, know that 99% of the time kids are feeling better and actively engaged in the classroom within moments.” Shaunna of Fantastic Fun and Learning
- Give Praise – “Rewards! Rewards! Rewards! Not only did things like ice cream or a special toy work for making it to the car without tears, to the classroom without tears and through the day/week, but VERBAL rewards. Silly celebrations and top of your lungs ‘YOU DID IT’s’ – verbal support is KEY!” Tiffany of Timeless Adventures
- Try A Transition Activity – “In situations where all other tricks and tips have been tried, work with the teacher so that your child has a task/job/privilege to complete immediately upon getting to school. That becomes the transition activity and something to look forward to in focusing on rather than dreading the separation. This worked well with several of my students that lived with anxiety disorders.” Sheila of Pennies of Time
Have you had any experience with separation anxiety in children? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments below!
More Parenting Tips from Moms:
- How to Discipline and Manage Behavior [From the Mouths of Moms]
- 10 Tips for First Day of School Readiness [From the Mouths of Moms]
- 10 Tips for Teaching Kids About Good Touch Bad Touch [From the Mouths of Moms]
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