This article talks about Josiah’s experience with managing separation anxiety in children during early education. This is one of the most difficult situations a toddler or infant overcomes during their journey to holistic development.
What is separation anxiety?
All children and adults experience varying amounts of separation anxiety. It is part and parcel of growth. Separation anxiety in children is a normal part of childhood development and is usually first experienced in babies when they hit 7 months old, upon grasping the concept on object permanence. Children understand that their caregivers do not actually vanish completely upon disappearing from sight triggering their frustrations, why are they leaving me here? This is a result of true attachment to their caregivers. Normal separation anxiety is most commonly at its peak when the child is at 8 to 18 months old and gradually subsides, usually by the time the child is about 3 years old.
How can you help your child to ease his/her separation anxiety?
Before sending your child to school, start the day with an optimistic introduction to what your child can expect in the course of the day! You can share with them the activities they can look forward to and excite them over the friends they get to make. There are plenty of books to help your child understand what “worry” is and where it comes from, such as “Worry, Worry, Go Away” by Christine Adams.
Stagger the Hours
Being in a new environment for a day can be traumatic for your child. You can arrange to pick-up your child earlier on the first few days, for example after lunch, and you can gradually increase the time that he/she spends in school.
Be Consistent and Stay Calm
More than anything, a child needs structure and routine. Being consistent with your child’s daily schedules, such as drop-off and pick-up times, should help ease his/her anxiety. Your bonds with your child is not to be underestimated, your child is able to pick up any anxiety that you may be feeling. Assuring your child by giving a great big hug and a smile, your child will feel more confident seeing your positive outlook.
Separation anxiety can be alleviated by reassuring your child that you will return. Speak in child terms, for example, instead of giving your child a specific pick-up time, saying something like, “I will come to get you after you have your afternoon snack”. Choosing the right thing to say can go a long way, such as, “I will be back this evening to fetch you” instead of teasing with “stop being a baby”.
Keeping the Goodbyes short and sweet
It is recommended that you say a proper goodbye to your child, but remember to keep your goodbyes short and sweet, maybe with a kiss on the cheeks! Thereafter, allow the child’s teacher to bring him/her into school. The longer you linger, the more agitated your child will get upon noticing the hesitation.
Keep Your Promise
We often forget that children have the ability to understand mature feelings such as trust , given how they don’t seem to hold grudges from disputes with friends or siblings. If you had promised to pick up your child at a certain time, do your best to stick to it. Upon successfully maintaining your promise , you may further assure your child by reminding them that you have stayed true to your words and will continue to do so. This way your child will gain more confidence in you and alleviate some of their anxiety.
Bring Something Familiar
The school will usually allow your child can bring along something that is familiar to him/her for comfort and to act as a security blanket.
Thank you for reading!
We hope these tips can help your child to adjust to school in an assuring and comfortable manner!
We have also compiled a list of practical ways to prepare your child for school here!
Keep an eye out in this space for more friendly tips and articles!
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