I don’t want to let go! Easing Separation Anxiety

Category: Back to School, Education, Kids

Going to school is a time of excitement, anticipation and newfound independence.  While some children will handle this transition with ease and say “You can go now,” other children will feel  anxious, cry and not want you to go.  Given these varying responses, what’s a parent to do? You should know that it’s completely natural for both children AND parents to feel anxious about starting school — this actually indicates that you have a strong, healthy bond between you.  While starting school will most likely produce anxiety on some level for your family, you can manage it effectively by utilizing these simple tips:
  • Talk to your child about school and let them express their feelings.  Acknowledge their feelings as valid and tell them that it’s ok to feel scared.
  • Be positive, calm and confident.  Your child will look to see how you are reacting.
  • Empower your child by letting them make decisions about what they want to wear the night before.  Give them choices.
  • Make a goodbye routine; a special kiss, high five or hand shake.  An example might be “I will  give you 3 kisses and one more special one to put in your pocket in case you need it later and then I need to go.”
  • If your child is clinging to you, let their teacher step in and take them even if they are crying and saying “No”.  They will have them write you a note or draw you a picture to express their feelings and 9 out 0f 10 times the child will stop crying.  If they are crying and upset for an extended period of time, the teacher will contact you.
  • Sometimes, it may seem easier to leave without saying goodbye if your child is engaged in play, but this will only make the separation more difficult the next time.  Your child needs to trust you.
  • Ask your child’s teacher what and who they played with.  Learn the name of their friends and favorite activities.
  • Ask your child specific questions about their day.  For example, “ What did you have for snack or what did you do first?”
  • Put a special note in your child’s back pack or lunch box.
  • Have your child bring a picture of you, a favorite stuffed animal or something that belongs to you so they know you are coming back.  An example might be your watch or a necklace.  One parent I knew sprayed their child’s stuffed animal with her perfume.  The child loved smelling their mom all day!
  • Keep communicating with your child’s teacher.  They are here to help you.
  • Pray with your child and let them know that God is always with them.  Tell them that their teachers will take care of them.  Some words to remember: “ But even when I am afraid, I will keep trusting you.” Psalm 56:3
  • One of our teachers, Miss Shannon came up with a great idea that I have used to help children with this.  She talks about what a worry is and then gives each child a piece of paper.  They crush them into a ball and throw them away because we know that God will take care of all our worries at school.  You should see them throw those worries away!
Here is a list of books that we read at school to help children with this.  You might want to read them at home, too, and then discuss them.
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
  • I Don’t Want To by SallyGrindley
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Mouse’s First Day Of School by Lauren Thompson
LADC teachers are looking forward to a great year and hope these tips help you with any worries you may have.  We wish your child a great first week of school, whether they are starting at LADC or another great Early Childhood Program! This blog post was authored by Laura Carlson, a Lead Teacher and Site Director at the Redeemer Lutheran Site.