Overcome Your Child's Separation Anxiety
When the time comes for your child's first day of school you expect to be proud and maybe a little sad. Okay-maybe more than a little sad. You hope, however, that your child will take to the potential new experience well, with energy and excitement. When your child has separation anxiety issues though, it can taint those early days at school. The good news is that separation anxiety is completely normal for young children.
It is a phase that will pass in most cases and by the time your child moves on to first grade they will no doubt have forgotten their first day fears. Still, separation anxiety in a school setting is something that you must address and find ways to solve so that your child can go on to experience kindergarten the way they should.
Stop School Related Separation Issues
For most parents, their child's reluctance to part ways on the first day at school will not come as a complete surprise. There are usually signs that this might be coming. If you notice them in advance, you will be about to begin working to address the source of your child's anxiety early. Otherwise you're stuck dealing with it as school starts.
If the anxiety seems to be directly related to school, consider dropping by the building and classrooms before the first day. This will allow your child to familiarize themselves with the new surroundings and help to allay some fear. If you can introduce your child and their teacher before the big day, that will also help. Other strategies for dealing with normal separation anxieties include:
- Practice separating-practice short separations to teach your child that all will be well while you are gone and that you will always return for them.
- Control your own stress and anxiety-Don't let your child see or feel that you might be distressed as that will distress them more.
- Schedule separations after naps or food-A hungry or sleepy child is more likely to feel anxiety at separation.
- Prepare a goodbye ritual-Children often respond well to routine, create your own goodbye routine so that the experience begins to seem commonplace.
- Keep to familiar surroundings when separating-If you can separate some place where your child feels safe, their anxiety will be easier to control.
- Make new surroundings feel familiar when separating-Use beloved and familiar toys to ease the pain of separation.
- Have a consistent primary caregiver-If you use a babysitter or daycare, keep it consistent.
- Leave without fanfare-Don't make a fuss about leaving or your child will pick up on your anxiety.
- Minimize scary influences from t.v. and books-Scary imaginative material may just distress your child further.
- Set limits and don't give in-If your child learns that you can be manipulated by their separation anxiety, then they will not hesitate to continue manipulating you.
If you practice these types of techniques outside of the school situation, it can make separating at school easier in the long run.
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