Manage Separation Anxiety for the First Day of School
You’ve probably put a lot of thought and effort into helping your child adjust to school for the first time. And they as much as you need a little help in managing separation anxiety. I have listed a few that worked for me:
1. Develop goodbye rituals.
Don’t let them notice but when you leave them for a few minutes or a few hours always use the same goodbye ritual and make sure it includes positive images and time limitations as for example “ I love you see you soon” statements like this let the child know it’s time for you to separate as well as that the separation is not permanent. Reliving the anxiety for me this was the number one cure.
2. Honor your feelings.
After having been together for so long and watching your child grow separation anxiety is normal. Honor your feelings seek the support and assistance from a friend a neighbor or even your spouse who leaves home every day and has the separation and goodbye ritual already established with your child
3. Your feelings are yours, not your child’s.
You can’t expect your child to look forward to playing with the other kids in preschool if you have tears in your eyes. In reality they will not fear the event if you don’t. If you let them know this is normal and do not teach the child to fear the event, then they wont
4. Help your child relax.
Don’t tell your child you’ll be in the parking lot in case he needs you—that just makes it hard for him to settle into the classroom. Instead, say that you will be back to pick him up at a given time.
5. Have faith in your child.
If you have confidence in your child’s ability to interact and believe he/she is ready for school, then you can have faith in your child’s inner strength to rise to the occasion and grow.
6. Get to know the caregiver or teacher.
Naturally it’s hard to relax if you don’t really know the person with whom you’re leaving your child. Before you enroll your child, hopefully you had a discussion with the caregiver about how they handle a child’s separation sadness. (An experienced teacher knows that many children will naturally feel sad at saying goodbye and those children need comfort. Once they bond with the teacher, they will feel much more comfortable saying letting go of parents.)
Engage in brief chats as you pick your child up, send notes of appreciation, let her know about anything big that’s going on in your child’s life.
7. Make sure you are there at Dismissal
Not seeing you immediately will exacerbate any anxieties your child has and may panic her altogether, which will set back your own adjustment.
If your child cries when you first see them, don’t worry. You’re seeing the stress of having to keep it together all day and the joy of being back with you again. Your return signals that it’s safe to let out their emotions again.
8. Reinforce the bond.
Make sure you spend special time every day after school with your child so they know that they are still an important part of your life.
Take every opportunity to connect physically—she’s spent the day being as grown-up as she can and needs the reassurance of snuggle time with a parent. Be sure you do some physical roughhousing to get your child laughing every afternoon—it helps both of you work through the tension of the separation.
9. Get organized at night for the next morning and get enough sleep.
If you’re rushing, you’ll be impatient with your child. It’s hard for all of you to feel the same way about the first day of school. Getting prepared can be exciting and if managed correctly you can use this time to make the event an adventure for both of you.
10. Get a life.
Most parents realize that we need other things to be passionate about besides our children. Nurturing ourselves and being emotionally independent is important because we have not finished to live and we need to continue to grow and learn to be able to be there for our children and ourselves later in life.