Separation Anxiety

Constructively Handling Separation Anxiety

If you have young children, you know that the workday’s stress often pales compared to the challenge of just getting your kids to their classroom.  It is often the leaving of your child at daycare that can cause the most significant stress.  The separation anxiety induced by daycare or playschool drop-offs is often draining.

Minimizing Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

    • Separation AnxietyDon’t rush the process. If possible, introduce your child to the caregiver in advance.  Spend time at the daycare with your child before leaving them for the first time.  This helps your child become comfortable and know what to expect.
    • Have a routine.  Children like to know what to expect.  Endeavor to have a consistent schedule.  This way, your child doesn’t feel blindsided when they arrive at daycare.
    • Have a plan.  Let your child know what the plan is for when you return.  Try saying something like, “When I pick you up, we can go to the park and play,” or “specific family will pick you up after naptime.” Reassuring them you won’t forget them and that specific plans are in place gives them peace of mind.
    • Leave a soft toy or blanket with them.  If your child has a favorite item that helps soothe them, check with the daycare to see if they can bring it.
    • Don’t Linger.  When you drop off your child, stay positive. Smile, remind them of the plans for later that day, say goodbye, and leave.

Minimizing Parental Separation Anxiety

    • Acknowledge your fear.  We know it can be tough to leave your child somewhere new. But your child will sense your anxiety and thus become anxious, too. Help yourself -and your child – by talking to other parents, your significant other, a counselor, or other trusted individuals. Recognizing your fears, no matter how trivial they may sound, can help you let them go.
    • Focus on the present. We all have baggage from childhood experiences. However, we can’t let the past define our present. Acknowledge those past hurts and hang-ups and get help if needed. Understanding your triggers will make it easier to avoid them and put you at ease.
    • Start slow.  Don’t make your child’s first daycare a full day, if possible. Instead of starting with a full day of daycare, do incremental periods. For instance, a few days for just 2-3 hours, then some for 4-6 hours, then start full days. This way, you can ease into daycare separation.
    • Ask for pictures.  Ask if the caregiver will send you photos of your child throughout the day. This will let you know that all is going well.

Remember that separation anxiety is temporary.   Your child will eventually learn that being away from their parents is a part of life. Be patient. Look for ways to ease your child’s- and your own- stress so you can make drop-offs easier for everyone.

If you have questions about easing separation anxiety for your child, please don’t hesitate to ask.  The staff at Early Year Academy want to make your drop-off routine as easy as possible.