Children clinging to their parents’ legs, crying “don’t leave” and throwing extreme tantrums – sound familiar?
Most babies get some sort of separation anxiety when they are just learning to understand that things exist even when they are out of sight. It is very common that even older children get separation anxiety when their daily life faces changes, like when going to a daycare, or starting a pre-school. Separation anxiety is part of normal development, and will be outgrown.
It is good for the parents to remember, that the fear children feel is real, and the way parents address it, has a dramatic effect how they can overcome their fear of something happening to the parent while they are in school.
Four mistakes parents do:
1. Sneak out avoiding a scene. The solution is only a short term, and will not build trust and confidence to your child.
2. Avoid the situation by staying home. It just gives the child a reason to believe that there is a valid reason to fear loosing you while in school.
3. Crying how much you are going to miss your child too.
4. Coming back to check if she/he is ok.
What you can do to help you child:
1. Make school less scary, meet the teacher, see the class room and make friends with some classmates even before the school starts.
2. Let your child take familiar and favorite items to school, like the backpack they chose, or a t-shirt you bought together on your vacation.
3. Be trustworthy. Explain when you will be back, and keep your promise to build trust.
4. Be calm and consistent. Show example of calm behavior and confidence that there is no reason for your child to have the fear.
5. Say a loving, but short and firm goodbye, making it longer will make it only more difficult for your child.
Remember that this is only a temporary situation, and your child will outgrow it. It is always good to discuss things openly with your child, to see if there are some other things that worry him. Bring a box of tissues with you, but don’t use them until you have said goodbyes to your child. When you show you are confident and trust the school and teacher, your child will learn to be confident in school too.