Does this scenario sound familiar? You drive your smiling child to school, walk him to his classroom, say goodbye and hand him off to his teacher. When you’re ready to leave, he begins crying, clings to your leg and begs you not to go.
Separation anxiety is a completely normal part of child development, though we understand that doesn’t make it any easier. It can first emerge as early as 4-8 months and generally continue until about 18-20 months of age. Some children may go through this stage as late as 18 months to 3 years, while others may never experience it.
We know that while drop-offs can seem stressful for your little one, they are usually more stressful for you as a parent. Below are some tips that will help you and your child take separation anxiety in stride.
1. Be consistent with goodbyes
As tempting as it is to slip out of the classroom while your child is distracted, it’s actually best to give him a quick goodbye and tell him when you will return. Although he may not understand of the concept of time, use an activity or event for reference. You could say, “I’ll be right back after your nap” or “Mommy will come get you after you have lunch.” When you pick him up, remind him that you came back, just like you said you would. Follow the same drop off routine every day.
2. We’re here to help
Our teachers are available to help with drop-offs by greeting your child by name, giving him a warm welcome and immediately involving him in a fun classroom activity. They genuinely care about their students and are here to make the transition from home to school as seamless as possible.
3. Pack a familiar object from home
Comfort items can help provide a sense of security for your child in an unfamiliar environment. Allow him to bring a favorite item from home, such as a toy, stuffed animal, book or blanket. After the first few weeks, he will most likely forget about the item and be eager to explore, learn and have fun at school.
4. Check your email for updates
We help put your mind at ease throughout the day with our electronic communications program, Links 2 Home. Our teachers will send you a daily email with a photo and report of your child’s fun day at school. You can even furnish drop-off notes through our mobile app, so his teacher will have all the information she needs in case you need to make a quick exit.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Difficulties at drop-off won’t last forever, so try not to be too hard on yourself. We hear from our teachers frequently that upset children end up jumping right into a fun activity with a smile just minutes after the parent leaves. Remember that we’re always here to offer support for you and your child every step of the way.