Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Separation Anxiety

When I was a child care provider, I sometimes had toddlers who experienced separation anxiety when their parents were dropping them off for the day. It's a natural part of development, sure, but there are also things that you can do to alleviate a lot of those tears and fears.

One strong word of advice I can offer: Commit to your Exit. It's not a bad idea at all to hang out for a few minutes while your child gets comfortable. I have always encouraged that and it's so much easier on a child than drop-and-run. What I didn't enjoy was when the child got involved in the activity and was happy and Mom or Dad made a big show of leaving. A content, acclimated child would suddenly become stricken with sorrow after hearing, "OK honey, I'm leaving. Mommy's going. Bye. Sweetie? Sweetie? Mommy has to go. I'm really leaving this time. Here I go. I'm gooooooooooooing." Please know that if that's your behavior at drop-off time, it's a trigger for your child's anxiety rather than something that settle it.

At the same time, I don't advise ever sneaking out the door just because you see your child is happy at play. Something as simple as a kiss on the forehead and, "Looks like you're having fun. I'll see you later," is all that's needed before you walk out the door. I've seen children have some pretty hard-to-calm breakdowns after realizing that a parent left without them knowing or getting a chance to say goodbye. It's a delicate balance between too much goodbye and not enough, but it's one worth finding.

If you are a teacher, how do you help ease separation anxiety for your students and parents?

If you are a parent, how do you want your child's teacher to handle your child's separation anxiety?

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