Starting preschool/ big school for the apple of your eye? These tips will help you and your child deal with separation anxiety.
It’s the hardest thing in the world to do: letting your child walk away from you and take those first steps into a world that is both new and fascinating. Separation anxiety is not only normal, it’s pretty common across the board, irrespective of when you start schooling your child.
Your mind conjures up every possible scenario for the big foray into school but here’s what you can do to help your child deal with being away from you while enjoying the experience at school.
1. Pick up some books to read to them
We put together a lovely list of back-to-school books last week. From prepping the child for a new school to shaking off the vacation blues, there’s something for everyone. Do check them out today if you haven’t already. Seeing other kids deal with the anxiety of school, even if they are fictional, is a great way to help them come to terms with the idea of novelty.
2. Stay positive when speaking about school
While speaking about school with your child, keep the note always positive. It’s important that you don’t break down and cry when the child gets on the yellow bus for the first time or when she waves goodbye from the gates of the new school. Talk up everything- the new teachers, new friends, new books, new furniture and watch as their excitement grows. You’ll find yourself getting happier too.
3. Tears are a part of the process
Every child, well almost every child, will cry when leaving home for the first time. This is perfectly normal. There will be other kids who may waltz away into school without a backward glance on the first day but cry on the days following day 1. This is because they realise that this isn’t a one-off play date with friends but a regular affair! Be prepared. It takes a truckload of patience to deal with the tears on a daily basis. But, the good news? It gets easier. Wipe the tears away but enlist the teacher’s help to get the child to reduce crying.
4. Do something else
I remember the first week of playschool when I had to do the waiting game outside my daughter’s school. Day 1 was sheer torture because I was surrounded by every anxious parent on the planet and even if I wasn’t given to worrying, being there was enough to make me wail. Days 2 to 7, I made a decision to carry a book along and walked across to the coffee shop near the school and spent the entire 2 hours there. Coffee and a book- what more do you need? Anxiety flies out the window in these situations.
5. Praise positive behaviour
Within a week, you’ll notice that the tears reduce in intensity- yours and theirs! Make sure you mention that each time. Simple statements like ‘I can see you like your teacher now,’ and ‘Wow, did you make any new friends today?’ are always good morale boosters. Play up the positives. Always.
It may seem pretty challenging when you decide to take that momentous decision and start playschool/ big school. Take heart in the fact that there are many parents who have done it before you and hey, you’ll be sharing your stories soon with the parents who come after you.