coping with separation anxiety during preschool

When your child is finally old enough for preschool, you will both likely feel a whole variety of emotions. In particular, you might be concerned about your child experiencing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a common occurrence in young children, but it doesn’t have to mean that every goodbye is a tearful one. Try these tips to help ease separation anxiety in your child.

deal with your own feelings

You may not realize it, but kids pick up on your feelings. If you are experiencing anxiety about your child going to preschool, they will feel it, and it will make them more anxious themselves. It’s normal to worry about leaving your child alone in a new place for the first time, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling some combination of fear, sadness, and joy. Don’t try to deny that you are feeling this way, but keep it to other adults and stay calm in front of your child. Grab a coffee with a close friend, confide in your spouse, or talk to a professional therapist to work out your feelings so when you are in front of your child, you can give them the calm support they need during this transition.

talk to them about their feelings

Speaking of feelings, you also want to be sure to support your child emotionally as they adjust to preschool. Make a point to talk to your child about what they are feeling. Ask about what makes them so upset when you drop them off, and give them some guidance on how they can cope with these emotions. Be sure not to minimize their concerns — assure them that their feelings are normal, but help them manage them. For example, if their fear is that you’ll never come back after dropping them off, reassure them that you will always be there to pick them up at the end of the day.

create a goodbye ritual

Having a ritual around saying “goodbye” can provide your child with the comfort and stability they need. Come up with a special way to part ways with your preschooler, whether it’s a secret handshake, a kiss on the forehead, or a loving phrase. It doesn’t matter what it is specifically, as long as it’s something special the two of you can share.

be consistent

In fact, ritual and routine are very grounding for everyone, but especially preschoolers. If your child can predict what’s going to happen, they experience less anxiety, so they can focus their attention on exploring the world and developing new skills. Provide a consistent schedule as much as you can. Wake up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, and go through the same routine every morning, and your child will be more prepared to take on preschool.

It should also go without saying that you should be consistent about picking up your child on time every day. Your child will feel a lot more anxiety about being dropped off if they don’t know if or when you will return to pick them up.

give them a token of comfort

Some children find comfort in a small token that reminds them of their parents. Giving them something to hold onto during the day can be a way for them to ease the pain of missing their mom or dad. Something like a scarf that smells like your perfume, a piece of jewelry you wear often, or a photo of the family may help them cope with missing you when you’re gone.

get out more

If your child is used to you being around all the time, it’s going to be more difficult for them to accept being apart from you for eight hours a day. While you may want to spend as much time with your child as possible as you prepare to bring them to preschool, pulling back a bit may be exactly what they need. Make a point to go out for short amounts of time, whether that’s a date night with your spouse or just a quick run around the block while someone else watches them. This will communicate to them that you always come back and that it’s normal for you to be apart sometimes.

visit our montessori preschool in houston

Something that makes the first day of preschool extra scary for little ones is when they are not only leaving their parents for a full day, they are also in a brand new place they’ve never been before. Visiting a preschool several times before the first day can be incredibly beneficial for easing this anxiety. If your child is starting at Cy-Fair Montessori School, we’re happy to help them adjust by opening our doors to you both before their first day.

If you’re interested in learning more about our preschool in Houston, we would love to offer you a tour! Contact us at Cy-Fair Montessori School to learn more today.