Most children experience a period of separation anxiety in their young lives. Older babies often go through this phase when they learn about object permanence, and toddlers may endure this phase a second time. It may even last well into the preschool years. While your child’s anxiety should ease up once you’ve said goodbye and left him to play and learn at daycare, that goodbye can be tough. Our tips will help you, and your child, cope with that parting moment.
Try talking to your child’s teacher. Is your child going through an especially difficult period with regard to goodbyes? Talk to her teachers so that they know to be on watch for any anxiety she may exhibit. Discuss the types of calming techniques that work for your child at home, so that your child’s teachers can reassure her just as you would yourself.
Consistency, consistency, consistency. Maintain a steady routine in order to reassure your child. Develop a series of rituals that take you from sunrise to dropoff. Having a consistent morning routine as you serve breakfast, get your child dressed, and get ready to leave the house can be reassuring. You can even develop a special goodbye routine once you get to daycare, whether it’s a few calming phrases or just a special high-five. At the end of the school day, casually remind your child that you’ve come back to pick him up just as you promised that morning.
No sneaking. Don’t think that just because goodbyes are difficult, omitting the goodbye completely might solve your problem. Saying goodbye is an important point of reassurance when you separate from your child, and simply disappearing may cause him undue stress when he realizes that you’re gone. Make a point of saying goodbye, but keep it brief and light-hearted.
Pack a comfort object. Many children have a soft toy or blanket that they use as a lovey, comforting them as they fall asleep at night, or become upset when they are away from home on family trips. That same lovey can be packed in your child’s backpack just in case he needs it during the day.
Catch up at home. At the end of the day, talk to your child about his day. What did he like best about his lunch? What was his favorite activity? Remembering the positive parts of his day will calm his anxiety, and you can mention his favorite daycare activities, toys, and even his friends when he expresses worries to you.
What did you do to ease your child’s separation anxiety? Is there anything you tried that backfired? Let’s start a conversation in the comments section!