Does your little one constantly cling to you every time you drop them off at school? If yes, your child may be experiencing separation anxiety. Children go through feelings of separation anxiety due to a number of different reasons.
Unlike adults, young kids do not have a strong sense of time. They do not completely understand how long they’ll have to wait for you to come back for them. Also, they hate goodbyes because they fear being left in an environment where they don’t feel secure.
To them, being left in a daycare or preschool feels like forever. Thus, the tears and the tantrums. So how do you make it easier for your little one? Read on and learn how to deal with child separation anxiety at drop off.
Talk about school in a positive and exciting way
One common mistake many parents unconsciously do is talk about school as if it’s something that children should dread. Instead of painting school in a negative light, keep the discussion positive and exciting. Talk about the fun activities they’ll get to enjoy at school. Highlight things like being able to play games, sing songs, read stories, play on the playground with new peers and more! Also, you might want to incorporate a little creativity in preparing their lunches. Pack their favorite snacks and surprise them with special treats. Not only will this give them something to look forward to; it will also make their school experience more positive.
Send them a special item
Being left alone in an unfamiliar place isn’t easy for any child. One effective way to ease the transition is to send your little one an item they hold dear that they can keep during school. Do they have a favorite stuffed toy? Send them any object they deem special as a comforting reminder of home. It will help increase the feeling of familiarity in a new environment.
Use a reward system
Instead of punishing your child for throwing tantrums during drop-offs, use a reward system as a form of positive reinforcement. Encourage them to stay calm every single day by preparing a prize at the end of the week or month. For example, you can use a sticker chart to keep track of the days without difficult behavior during drop off time. Show them the chart everyday so that they can also see their progress. Set clear targets and also tell them about the prize they can look forward to, e.g. a new toy, book, pair of shoes and so on.
Discuss how your child feels
If your little one seemed a bit sad and upset during drop off, take time to discuss it with them once you’re home. Give them the chance to express their emotions. Tell them it’s okay to feel worried, upset or scared. Then, tell them that you’ve missed them too and that you were looking forward to picking them up after school. Also, assure them that everything is going to be okay and you will always come back for them after school.
Spend a little more time with them in the morning
Another excellent way to help ease your child’s anxiety is to spend a little more time with them in the morning. Instead of rushing to drop them off, spend a few minutes giving them kisses and comforting hugs. Be sure to exhibit positive energy to make them feel better instead of anxious.
Arrive earlier than others
When dropping off your child, it is best to make a point to arrive earlier than other children. This will give your little one time to get settled before you leave. Bringing them to school earlier will also buy some time to introduce them to their teacher and a chance to be more comfortable before everybody else arrives. So, make sure you have everything ready the night before so you don’t end up rushing in the morning.
Keep goodbyes brief
Don’t stay long when saying your goodbyes. Simply comfort your child, assure them they will have fun and that you will definitely come back to pick them up. Give them a quick kiss and tell them you’ll see them later that day.
It is perfectly normal for kids to feel sad or anxious for being left in a new place. But with the help of these tips, you can overcome the challenges of having separation anxiety during drop offs!
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