The first day of kindergarten can be quite the memorable day! Depending on whether or not your little one went to preschool, this can be their very first experience in a school setting, and being away from mom and dad.
That idea can be daunting for both child and parent, who may be used to always being around one another. Typically, the separation anxiety stems from the child, whose fear of mom or dad never coming back has not been tested before. On occasion, it can stem from a parent who has a hard time detaching. No matter the source, there are helpful tips you can apply to the situation to alleviate the problem quickly.
Perhaps separating from one another is a rare occasion. You could have a household where there is just one parent, making most of the parent’s time about the child. You could have the parent in this scenario having attachment issues, and not realizing they’ve created the problem.
Whatever the situation is, practicing separation beforehand will make the first day of school much easier. Start by grabbing a babysitter and getting coffee with a friend. Maybe a date night with the spouse. Practicing separation in a safe environment will help the clingy move forward.
Practice Separation After Naps Or Mealtime
Ever say or do something you regretted because you were “hangry”? Your child can probably relate too. We tend to feel the feels a lot more when we’re hungry or tired, so waiting until your child has had a chance to receive some nourishment will definitely go a long way in getting them to cooperate. Schedule that coffee date with a friend after your child has had a chance to eat or rest, and see how their mood shifts on the entire scenario. Heading to kindergarten? Be sure to feed them a nutritious meal beforehand and help them get a good night’s sleep.
Develop A Quick ‘Goodbye’ Ritual
Having a fun handshake or song that only you and your kindergartner knows will help them in the moment of panic when it’s time to say goodbye for the day. It brings a sense of fun and calm to a moment that can spark serious anxiety for some, so be creative and even a bit silly. Making them laugh during your goodbye ritual will give them that serotonin boost they need for this change in their life.
Talk About It
As the first day of school approaches, have a conversation with your little student about what will be expected. Let them know that you’ll be leaving them with their teacher but ensure you’ll be back at a certain time. If it helps, have them do a walk-through with you and a school supervisor and see what the classroom will look like as well as where you’ll be to pick them up. Physically point to the clock and show them the time they’ll get to leave and reunite with you again. The more their minds feel they know about the situation, the more comfortable with it they’ll become.
Ask A Teacher Or Aid For Help
You’re not alone when it comes to a child being anxious or nervous about school. The teachers are used to this more than we know. They get a new wave of kindergartners every year, along with a handful of anxious and attached parents. They’re seasoned professionals and are there to help. Know your child is going through a rough time separating? Have a conversation with your teacher on the first day, and they’ll do what they need to gently eliminate the problem.
Give Your Child A Memento
Have a small photo of yourself? What about a handkerchief or piece of jewelry? Allow them to carry it with them in their backpack or wear it to school. Having a small piece of you that they can hold on to really helps make them feel closer to you when they physically cannot. It’s like carrying around a small hug until you can actually be together again.
This time of life can feel overwhelming and exhausting, but eventually, it will stop. The great thing about kindergarten is they are consistently going every day, leaving plenty of time to practice. It may take a little longer than you would like it to, but eventually, they will be smiling and waving as you leave with no drama at all. Remind yourself that things like this take time and to be patient. Allow your child to feel their feelings without trying to rush the process. Eventually, they will get used to the schedule, make new friends, and you will both forget the day that separation anxiety ever occurred.
Do you have any other helpful tips for coping with kindergarten separation anxiety? Please share them in the comments!
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