Starting preschool is an important milestone that comes with lots of uncertainty and crying. Do every drop off and goodbye is full of screams and tears, then your kid is having separation anxiety.As much as it’s difficult for you, it’s a lot more difficult for your little one. It is very common for preschool kids especially in the first few days in school. The separation anxiety happens because preschoolers are accustomed to being at home for so long. Till Now they have spent 2-3 years learning every rule and routine of the family and now they are suddenly exposed to the outside world. Meeting new people in an altogether new place without their parents being around, this exposure can scare some kids.
They display their anxiety in different ways such as being overly clingy or throwing unnecessary tantrums. Beginning to cry at night and continuous refusal to go to school and withdrawal from their interesting activities. All this behavior can be the signs of their anxiety. In this blog, we will discuss how parents can help their kids to deal with separation anxiety, build their confidence and make them prepare for their first day of school.
In the next section, we will learn the best ways to help a child with separation anxiety.Some of the advice mentioned below is counter-intuitive or conventional wisdom, but they are backed by extensive studies and research by psychologists and researchers.
1. Visit the school:
Before the commencement of the classes, it is good to take a tour of school with your child. Visit the classrooms, playground and the entire school campus. By doing so you can ignite the excitement of the kid for the school. This helps familiarize kids with teachers and form a comfortable relationship with them.
2. Keep a positive mindset:
Ensure your kid that school is going to be fun and he/she will learn new things and make friends. Your child will take cues from you, so it is important for you to keep calm and do not show any signs of nervousness. But if your kid seems anxious and scared then you need to reassure him that he''ll do fine and that you''re nearby in case he needs you.
3. Explain the routine of school:
It is important to validate your child’s feelings and understand their nervousness. Tell your kid about the games they will play, the other kids they will meet, and how you''ll always be there to pick them up after the school gets over. Don''t overhype their expectations for school, and don’t make promises about things that are not in control , for example making new friends. If your child''s early experience of initial days doesn''t match the expectations, the school may become scary, and not exciting for them.
4. Give your child a pep talk:
Tell your child the importance of school. Expose them to the resources that communicate the importance of education. Share your experience and tell your”first day of school” story to them. Reassure your child that it is normal to feel nervous and jittery on the first day of school and eventually it will be fun and they will adapt to the new environment. This pep talk will not only boost your child’s confidence but also assure your little one that you are there to listen and understand their feelings.
5. Listen to your child worries:
Let your child express their worries and fears. This can be significantly important to allow your child to vent out his emotions. By doing this you can help them to deal with their anxious thoughts. This will make them feel better.
6. Don’t sneak away:
Don’t walk away when your child is not looking at you. Make sure you say proper goodbye before you leave or drop them off to school. Sneaking away will damage the child’s trust in you. Also let them know at what time you will return to pick them up. This will make the departure easier.
7. Plan things about what you will do later:
What makes your little one anxious when you leave is the fear that they might not see you again. Making plans for your return helps your child to ease and alleviate this anxious feeling: “After your school gets over, I’ll come and pick you up and we can go to the park and play on the swings together.”
It can be really heartbreaking and difficult to drop off a tear-stained child at preschool, although separation anxiety is a normal part of toddlerhood, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it or let your child deal with it all alone. Parents being responsive to their child’s distress and anxiety has been proven to link to better social-emotional competence and support. It also helps to develop and secure a sense of attachment and fasten their cognitive and social development.
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