Typical days for our teaching team at Main Street Preschool include everything from tooth extraction to wardrobe changes. Some of the even more typical daily challenges we meet are tearful goodbyes. Separation anxiety is common beginning at around 9 months of age, and can continue off and on throughout the preschool experience. But while we it is typical for our team, we realize it is not a typical kind of emotional experience for parents.
Our Parent’s Day Out Staff helped put together some helpful tips based on their experience and time as caregivers of children who routinely experience tearful goodbyes.
As much as possible, be consistent. Keeping drop off times and routines consistent helps your child anticipate this process and find safety in it. Develop a specific way that you will release your child from your care into the teacher’s care. (i.e. a hug, kiss, high five or daily affirmation like “I’ll be back soon.”) Also, be efficient in your exit, not lingering and confusing your little one. If there is something you forgot to tell the caregiver, you can always call the office and deliver that message later.
No matter how rocky your start is – let us keep trying. When we can see your child through this process, it helps us build a relationship of trust with them. Helping them through their anxiety also gives us the opportunity to show them that school is a safe place to learn and play. It is common for us to work through these issues anywhere from a day or so to weeks at a time, based on the age of the child.
1. Communicate anything that may be affecting today’s mood with your child’s caregiver. Are they teething? Did they sleep well the night before? Is there any change in their routine we should know about? Giving us this information will make all of us better able to meet your child where they are on any given day.
2. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of your child crying, give the caregiver a “cry limit.” If 30 minutes of stressful tears is as much as you think your child can endure, let us know and we can call you at that time if they are still crying. If you don’t get a call, no news is good news!
3. Best of all – wait for the encouraging updates! We love it when we can give progress reports that let you know how we are feeling more secure each week.
Check out these articles for further information and tips about separation anxiety in preschool aged children.