Thursday, May 28, 2009

How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Preschoolers

Separation Anxiety: 15 Ways to Ease Your Child's Fears

It took months before I was able to leave five-year-old Madison, my fourth child, at school without having to peel her fingers off of me one-by-one and endure her tears and tantrums. The curious thing was that she'd gone to nursery school the previous year without making a fuss. Although Madison's teachers reassured me that she settled down and seemed worry-free within minutes after I left, I didn't know how heart-broken I would feel leaving her in such a state.

Separation anxiety is a little one's way of saying how much they really don't want to say good-bye. Most preschoolers and grade-schoolers experience it at some point in their early lives. Sometimes it occurs out of the blue after a change in the environment. Other times separation anxiety occurs because children are worried about life at home

-- perhaps because parents are fighting or someone is sick -- and they feel a sense of uncertainty about leaving home. Most often, however, separation anxiety is purely a "missing mom" issue. Madison fussed for months on end until I had my eldest daughter drop her off. Almost immediately, the tears and tantrums disappeared. Follow these 15 strategies and you may be able to minimize the problem too.

DO: Keep your good-byes short and sweet. In doing so, you convey the message that you have confidence in your child's ability to cope.

DON'T: Hover around. Your child will sense your anxiety, and this will make it more difficult for her to calm down.

DO: Tuck a family picture or a loving reminder away in your child's backpack for her to look at later in the day.

DON'T: Sneak out. You want your child to know unequivocally that she can trust you.

DO: Develop loving good-bye routines. Madison and I invented a kiss-hug-nose-rub routine that we both enjoy.

DON'T: Bargain or bribe your child to behave. Your little one should be allowed her feelings.

DO: Send clear messages. Your child needs to know that you expect him to go to school no matter how much he fusses, cries or stamps his feet.

DON'T: Take your school-aged child home. If you do, you send the message that if your child cries enough he won't have to stay.

DO: Invite children from the class over, so your child can forge friendships that will make the transition easier.

DON'T: Get upset. By keeping an upbeat and positive attitude about your child's school, teacher and friends, you'll help your child feel safe and enjoy his time at school.

DO: Ask your spouse or another family member to take a turn dropping your child off, or pick up one of your child's classmates on the way to school, and your problems may disappear with lightning speed.

DON'T: Discuss problems with the teacher in the morning. Save conversations and questions for the end of the day.

DO: Involve the teacher. You need someone on the other end who will greet your child and ease the transition.

DON'T: Be surprised if you solve the problem and it reoccurs after holidays and sick days.

DO: Believe in your child's ability to make positive changes.

Remember: Separation anxiety means that a strong and loving bond exists between you and your child.



maidinmalaysia said...

i read similar articles and i was still a wreck. my son, i think, did a little better

Swati said...

Thanks for this one

Sonia said...

Despite trying all the positive and negative things i must have done, Mihir still cried for almost two months for the entire duration (2 hours - would stop only when there was lunch or something he liked doing) when he started nursery. But now he is very settled and ofcourse now the warnings are the other way around - if you dont finish breakfast, you will miss nursery... and believe it or not, it is a struggle getting him home... so it always works out in the end - after the parents have gone through some drama.