It is hard to say goodbye to your child when leaving him in a new place for a couple of hours for the first time. However the good news is that this feeling, classified as separation anxiety, is a normal part of development, especially among new preschoolers, and is nothing to be concerned about. Parents should not think that they are the only ones who experience this. Teachers understand that a new child will experience separation anxiety, and are prepared to help the new child in this transition.
Collaboration between teachers and parents is a good start. Open discussion between parents and teachers is important to discuss how they can help the child in overcoming this separation anxiety. It might also be a good idea for the parents to take a picture of the front of the school and if allowed, the teachers’ faces and the child’s new cubby, then show them to your child. Teachers will normally encourage parents to attend an open house with the child a few times before school starts. This step would help familiarize the child with the school. This way, the child is able to get to know the teachers, as well as the new friends before the first day. However, once the child officially attends the daycare, it is better that the parents leave immediately once they drop off the child. Staying would only make the separation even more difficult for the child. Parents could also inform the teachers that the child has his stuff animal to cuddle with during quiet or nap time.
The following are a couple of tips that might help parents to simplify the transition:
Build Trust with Your Child.
- Please keep in mind that sneaking out is never a good idea. It just makes it harder for your child to trust you as she thinks that you are doing things behind her back. Sneaking out will not make the child cry any less. Instead, just tell her “Good bye, Mom/Dad will come back to pick you up.”
- Make a simple promise that you will spend time doing an activity that you know your child likes. For example, if weather permits you might be able to bring him to his favorite playground once he is done his dinner. It takes time for a bread to raise. It also takes time for you to build trust with your child.
- Open two-way communication and make sure that you are listening to your child without putting any negative words. When your child starts throwing a tantrum, try to listen without any judgement. It is better to say, “Remember sweetheart, you are a big boy now. Mommy can not always hold you anymore. Now, you can walk, eat, and tie your shoes by yourself, and it is time to let you be with other big kids,” rather than, “You are not a baby okay, don’t cry when mommy leaves.” Speaking negative words will not help in any circumstance. In addition, you can also remind your child about the time he was afraid to go to somewhere like the zoo for example, but now looks forward to going there.
Always be Supportive and Open to Any Changes.
- Keep in mind that this process might be not as smooth as you want it to be. Your child might be great the first week but drag his heels the second. He might be completely potty trained at first but may start having accidents again. Always be open and respond positively to the teachers’ feedback about your child, and know that the teachers are there to support you.
- Let your child be on her own pace in overcoming the separation anxiety. Likewise, it might give you peace of mind to know that every child has his own timing to overcome it.
Connect with the Other Parents from the Childcare
- You might be able to arrange a play date with another parent from the Childcare. It will make the transition easier once your child knows he has a friend he can hang out with.
Lastly, remember that your child will stop crying a lot sooner than you think. Everything will be fine.
The next article will be about determining whether your child’s separation anxiety is normal or could be categorized as a disorder.