Still Having Separation Anxiety at School?

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We usually don’t know separation anxiety will happen until the moment arrives. While you could have anticipated some tears back on that first day of school in August or September, there’s little you can do to prepare your 5- or 6-year-old for it.

But now that the school year is well underway, some kids – even beyond that kindergarten age – still have trouble with separation from mom and dad on a regular school day basis.

What’s a parent to do about separation anxiety? Plenty. And much of it involves solid, strategic preparation. 

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Comfort and self-comfort – There’s nothing wrong with affection to remind your child that they’re loved. The child could even give him or herself a hug by wrapping arms around one’s own body. But try to leave without much fanfare or overdoing it, or your child will stall even more.

Eat up – We know how adults can get hangry, so imagine how a child must feel. It’s tempting to lowball breakfast during the morning rush. But provide them with a good breakfast that fuels their body. Having a water bottle is an excellent idea, too.

Breathe and count – Help your child by taking slow, quiet breaths while quietly counting to ten to relax the body and mind. All of it can be a good distraction.

Practice it – You could visit the school during a non-traditional time to practice it, just like in sports. Practice makes perfect, and it will uplift the child when the real moment arrives. 

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Keep a ritual – The more you keep a goodbye routine each morning, the more reassuring the whole process will be for everyone.

Surprise visitor – I once employed the services of grandma who just “happened” to show up at the school drop-off when sad moments would typically occur. Grandma’s face and the promise of a prize was all our daughter needed to put a halt to the tears that day.

Teacher presents – Encourage your child to bring an apple, flower, or leaf for the teacher that will offer a distraction upon arrival. It will give him/her something to look forward to in the morning and turn the focus away from his/her own self by thinking about others.

Never give up – Reassure the child over and over that all will be well. Hugs, kind words, and a caring attitude will eventually win over gloom and woe.

Children need a lot of love, and you can be the catalyst for making their lives better. Teachers will do their part, but it’s ultimately up to you to set the tone and help them start their day right.

What do you think?

Still Having Separation Anxiety at School?

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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