Separation anxiety is normal and can be alleviated with some routine and reassurance. Below are a few tips on how to help your preschooler through separation anxiety.
A day or two before the start of school, make a visit to the preschool with your child and tour the facilities. Allow your child to play while you speak with the teacher.
Discuss a special good-bye routine with your preschooler. This will be a routine you do everytime you tell your preschooler good-bye before you are to be apart for a period of time. A couple examples include a secret handshake, a silly saying (e.g. smell ya later), or a special hug and kiss routine (e.g. two big squeezes and rub noses).
Practice being apart prior to the start of school. Start with small amounts of time and build up to a full day apart while your child visits a friend or family member. Practice your special good-bye routine before separating for your time apart.
Help your preschooler choose a small item (e.g. small stuffed animal, a picture of you) which calms him down and reminds him of you. Talk to your preschooler about how the item can be used and that it should remain in his backpack, but he can visit it when needed. You want this item to be an as-needed comfort, instead of an object he carries all day. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a great book to read the night prior to starting preschool. You can draw a small heart on your preschooler’s hand to remind him of you the next morning.
It is important to stay upbeat at drop-off. Remind your preschooler you love her and will be back at a specific time. Do your special good-bye and leave. It will rip your heart out walking away while your preschooler is pleading with you to stay, but prolonging the good-bye only makes it harder for her.
Consistency is a huge deal for preschoolers. Be consistent in your morning routines, take your preschooler to school, and be consistent in your pickup routines. It is extremely important to be on time for pickup so your preschooler doesn’t build further anxiety about being apart.
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