Preschool Separation Anxiety: 10 Tips to Ease the Transition

Preschool Separation Anxiety: 10 Tips to Ease the Transition

Are you nervous about putting your child in a new preschool? Does your son have a hard time separating from you in new situations? Or, has your daughter gone to the same preschool for the past year without any problems, then suddenly one day begins crying and protesting that you don’t leave her? As a parent, you only want what’s best for your child, but it can be hard to balance your emotions with necessity when it comes to an upset child. You want to know that they will be happy and feel secure at preschool, but walking away from your crying son or daughter can leave you second guessing your choice.

Separation is a developmental challenge. When adults take children’s feelings seriously, talk to them honestly, and give them lots of understanding support, children can learn ways to cope with separation successfully, both now and in the future. Responding to ‘I want my mommy!’ is only the beginning.”

Here are our 10 tips to ease any worries about preschool separation anxiety.

mother and daughter doing a preschool assignment together

10 Tips to Soothe Preschool Separation Anxiety

1. Always Tell Your Child The Truth

Always tell your child the truth. When leaving your child, be honest and tell them that you will be back. Don’t just disappear without notice as this can lead to a lack of trust between you and your child. It’s better to say something like “Mommy is going to work and I will come back to get you after your nap” (or whatever time, based on an activity in the child’s schedule.) so your child knows what to expect.

2. Talk to Your Child about the Happy Experiences to Expect

Help your child look forward to a favorite activity or person when they are going to be separated from you. Discuss the positive experiences that they will have in their new environment, and this will help them feel more excited about it.

3. Keep a Brief Schedule of your Child’s Activities

This will help you know what your child is doing during the day and can help you reinforce the good times when you talk to your child. Instead of asking “What did you do in school today?” which often leads to unhelpful answers, asking more specific questions like “Who did you sit next two during snack time?” to spark a conversation.

4. Prepare Your Child for a New Separation

Prior to the first day of separation, make a short visit to the facility, and give your child a tour. Show them where their belongings will go, where the bathrooms are, and where they will nap. This can help them feel more comfortable and confident.

5. Be Prepared for your Own Separation Anxiety

When you’re leaving your child for the first time, it’s normal to feel anxious. Don’t prolong your goodbye, say it quickly and leave. If you’re concerned about your child during the day, call your childcare provider. Here at Kids’ Care Club, we have an open door policy and are here to answer all of your questions. Most parents discover all that was well shortly after they left.

6. Help Your Child Choose a Part of Home to Bring

Letting your child bring a familiar object from home, like a blanket, family photo, or snuggly toy, can extend the feeling of security from home to the unfamiliar setting. A ‘blankie’ is a tactile comfort that smells, feels, and looks like home.

7. Watch for your Child’s Expressions of Anxiety

Be aware of any change in behavior, like wetting their pants or thumb sucking, as these may be signs of anxiety. Be patient and understanding, and work with your child’s teacher to help your child cope.

8. Be Prepared for Preschool Separation Anxiety to Appear Later Than Expected

Sometimes children seem to adjust well to a new situation, but preschool separation anxiety may appear later on. Many teachers call these responses, second week-itis. This is normal since the child is now comfortable enough to show his true feelings. Don’t mistake this apparent delayed reaction with indications that something is wrong with the caregiver and withdraw the child needlessly. Rather, use this as an opportunity to discuss with your child’s teacher so that your child can get the care that they need.

9. Read Stories About Separation

Reading stories about separation experiences can help prepare your child for a new situation and the feelings they may have. This can be a good way to help them understand that separation is a normal part of life.

10. Create a Goodbye Ritual

Creating a special goodbye ritual can help your child feel more secure when you leave during drop off and pick up. It can be a simple routine like giving a hug and a kiss, or singing a special song together. This simple routine can help your child understanding that it’s time for you to go, and it can provide them with a comforting routine that they can rely on and expect. Remember to keep the ritual short and sweet, and avoid prolonging your goodbye.

Trust the Process

A new care giving situation can be upsetting for both parent and child, but with some preparation and suggestions, parents and teachers can work together to ease the transition from how to childcare.

Our number one goal here at Kids’ Care Club is to create a safe and nurturing environment for your child to grow in. We believe it is extremely important to make the transition process as smooth as possible, and that’s why we encourage every child entering our program to visit their new classroom at least twice before starting. Whether they’re joining our Toddler or Preschool classrooms, they will have one half hour visit, then one hour long visit. This will give your child an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the classroom environment and schedule.

During these visits, our teachers will guide the new child through the routines and begin building the oh so important teacher-child bond. If you have an infant, we will also provide new parents the opportunity to sit down with their baby’s primary caregiver to go over their “Needs and Services,” an important document that outlines an infant’s care giving needs, including feedings, sleeping and soothing routines.

Schedule a Tour

If you’re located in San Diego and searching for a preschool for your child, we invite you to contact us to schedule a tour today to visit our center and see all that Kids’ Care Club has to offer to you and your family in this new stage of your child’s life. We look forward to meeting you.

Additional Resources

Find more information and tools on our.  Parent Resources page »

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