13 tips to deal with Preschool Separation Anxiety

Posted on Posted in Mastering Social & School Life, Tots(7m-24m)

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It was really a tough time for me to settle up my kid in his preschool, which happened not just once but twice since we had to change his school.. It was an overflow of emotions both at my & my child’s end but it left me slowly with so much of learning that I wanted all mamma’s in this phase to get into an easy settling. Separation anxiety is heartbreaking!

Getting out of the cozy mamma – papa – babysitter- home atmosphere is the most dramatic moment of a preschoolers life. It is indeed stressful & a big event for they haven’t yet seen the world without parents. Your kid might be with a baby sitter but mind it moms, preschools are more demanding than baby sitters.Change is never that easy, not even for adults, then how can it be for these lil munchkins. For them we, their parents, are their world and they have not known any place without us.

“So first have a confirm feel that this “Separation anxiety” is very normal & so are the cries going to be for first few days. Nearly 99% children face this anxiety in some way or the other. So have a very slow, steady but a confident approach”

Dealing with Preschool separation anxiety

Let’s first know the reasons as to Why babies Cry during drop off?

1. Communication : 

They cry since they don’t yet know how to express their feelings. Crying is the only mode of communication for them when they are resistant. Their world is not yet full of words to express it. So have patience Moms, its heart breaking to see but very natural. Think of 10-15 days later, when your kid will say Goodbye with a smile!

2. Insecurity :

A kid will feel insecure if you do not bid Goodbye or hide all of a sudden & leave. I did this mistake once & regretted.

Many times we don’t want to say Goodbye once the child is engaged for the sake of “not reminding that mamma is going to leave”. It may sound good that day, but the very next day you’ll see your kid being conscious & lingering around you all the time thinking that mamma will go suddenly without informing. It creates a tensed aura around the child & a sense of insecurity.

3. Separation Anxiety :

Refrain saying -“ I’ll leave you & go”, I’ll never come back”, That can be a great emotional moment for them which will stick in their tiny brains. It’s a fear what if mamma will not come back? How & what will I do without mamma? Who are all these people not so loving like her? Yes, kids want to hold on the most safest mode in this scary world, and so do we as well. Nothing wrong, separation anxiety will soon turn into a friendly separation!

4. Poor Sleep or Eating Habits :

Put your child to bed early and wake him up well before time so that he has enough time to share a beautiful morning with you. He needs that time to have a healthy breakfast, take a bath and then go to school. Children who don’t get enough sleep are usually seen to me more emotionally sensitive. It happens with me too sometimes.

5. Lack of attention :

Kids at this age need attention and they get that at home. So rather, they are used to it, we parents, have build that. Going to a preschool for sure hits on the attention span and this confuses a child. He hates when he doesn’t gets that attention & resorts to cries.

6. Other reasons as –

Sometimes kids are impacted because of family reasons – Baby sitter goes away for something personal or mumma / daddy have gone for some tour. Other happenings as birth of a new baby or parents divorce also impacts a child on his emotional balance.

Role of Parents :

Moms and dads a very important task lies in your hands now to reduce the separation anxiety!

dealing with Separation anxiety

1. Acquaintance with the school –

A very basic activity, for 2-3 days just get your kid acquainted with the  school, other kids, teachers. Let the start be a very casual visit showing him of the fun a play school or kindergarten brings across. 

2. Positiveness –

Speak Positive about school, teachers, children. I’ve seen many moms saying – If you don’t do this, ma’am will come & take it away” or similar phrases. It’s so sure that kids will fear school or teachers then. Why not instil a positive feel that we go to school to enjoy with friends, teachers. They are there to help to develop your interests of playing football or colouring. Let him know that he can get such a great company of friends to play with.

3. Acquaintance with Teachers/other kids –

If the school allows, let kids have some personal time with teachers so that they recall them as a part of family & friends rather than strangers. Moms should also get to know each other & plan play dates for class kids to help them make friends outside the classrooms. Knowing class children & teachers will for sure reduce the discomfort of a kid. This will help reducing separation anxiety.

One of my mommy friend says –

“We really love kids play dates, it’s  a jolly good time for them as well as for we mommies, who get to share so much of us with new friends in a fun way”

So let your kids make friends & in turn you find yours in their parents:). Time to enhance bonding!

4. Shop Together –

Let your kid get excited for school. Indulge him in buying bags, bottles, lunch boxes & some treats for going to school. Let him know that it is a great fun place to be at.

5. Reach little early to school & pick back at a punctual time –

Try reaching to school a little early for the sake of easy settling without any extra chaos. Early drop off will also give your child one on one attention from the teacher until all kids come to grab their share:). Further ensure saying that you’ll be there to pick up soon & be back on time. Don’t let your kid be the last one to be picked up, since that arouses anxiety in a kid as in, why my mamma is not coming, leaving kid emotional.

6. Stuffed Toy or something to hold –

Give your kid something to hold, stuffed toy or your scarf to give a sense of security that something I love is with me.

7. Ensure adequate Sleep & healthy eating habits –

As stated earlier, sleep & eating has a great role in easy settling of a child. Try ensuring that.

8. Be confident & Say Good byes –

Confident Good byes build trusts! A sullen look on mom’s face while drop off will trigger panic in child. Allow the teachers and nannies to assume the role of pacifiers rather than you coming back to pamper the kid till he is fine. Give your child the assurance that he is in safe hands. Let him settle & engage him in some play before moving out. Say a smiling Goodbye while moving out. Perfect for reducing separation anxiety.

9. Drop off’s -If not you, try some one closer –

Ask daddy or friend to drop off the kid at preschool. Probably the anxiety would reduce to some extent and emotional melodrama may get less from both sides:).

10. Discuss –

A very important aspect that many mammas not resort to. Discuss the proceedings with your child. Give him a chance to open up his emotions to you. You can help support those negative emotions into positive one. Promote your kid to speak out his fears.

11.While on the way to drop off –

Engage the kid in some excitement. Sing a rhyme he loved recently or make some really lovely school stories of your time or anything positive & full of excitement. But beware if you feel that things are making kid nervous, switch over immediately.

12. Treat child like an adult –

Talk to him logical and in a story format for any learnings.

13. Avoid Baby talks & Comparisons –

Remove word “comparison” from your dictionary. Yes, you will feel tempted many times while being engaged with other kids or during social gatherings. But believe that every kid is different & unique. Little bundles cannot have all 100% optimum qualities. After all they are kids. Resorting to comparisons will worsen up things & generate inferiority.

 How was your separation anxiety experience moms, do share here!

54 thoughts on “13 tips to deal with Preschool Separation Anxiety

  1. Great tips. My daughter is 8 but I find that most of these tips are applicable. Talking to her logically elicits better reactions than “the mummy is screaming” approach. Great tips,thanks

  2. I don’t have children but it’s f I did, I agree with all your points here. Especially with communication and attention. More communication less baby talk and attention within reason.

  3. I recall my first day of school like it was yesterday. While my parents talked about me going to school, NO ONE told me that I would be left there for a few hours. LOL! So when my Mom handed me off to the teacher, in my young mind, I thought she was giving me away! I laugh now, but boy was that terrifying!

    1. Ha ha, it reminds me of my son, who says mamma you will not come to pick me up, while its me who picks him up daily with some treats to offer;) Sometimes young minds are completely un-understandable;)

  4. I wrote a post on this same subject a couple of years ago. I found some really great ways to help my daughter with her separation anxiety when she first started preschool.

  5. My elder one never cried but younger one gave me a hard time especially when we moved as she was just 2. I agree separation anxiety is common but it should be handled carefully.

  6. These are great tips. Both my kids seemed fine going to school because I made it sound like so much fun. My daughter freaked out once on me in the middle of the year weirdly, but then she was fine after that.

  7. For the little while when I sent my kids to pre-school I hated it. My daughter cried EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. seriously for the few months when I sent her.

  8. This so usefull for parenting !! i feel so disturb by this though that i need to send my boy to school !! its equally hard for both mommy and kids !! i am working on that tip to get familiar with the school enviorment

  9. Really like the ideas you listed–there are so many parents who just drop their kid and don’t worry about how to make it less ‘traumatic’. (Not trying to judge anyone–I had a kid myself that did this all the time.) Parents just have so much going on these days that they get worn down and don’t know what to do. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Ya, I’ve seen some parents since either they are getting late for work or just want their time too quickly.. But I believe one needs to have a good preparation to make it easy for both sides! Thanks for reading by

  10. Thank you for your tips. I can’t relate now since I dont have a child yet, and my little sister didn’t have this kind of situation (maybe because our house was just few metres away from.her school).
    I guess we have to be more patience when these things hapoen.

  11. Love these tips. My son had pretty severe preschool separation anxiety. He’s past it noe but this would have been so helpful at the time.

  12. I was always a working mom , so I guess since the kids were already used to the idea of separation and independence , they did not feel any problems in adjustment to the the preparatory school .

  13. Consistency and developing friendships were the best tools for me when it came to this. I know its hard though. My daughter I never really had a problem with. But every child is different.

    1. That was great that your daughter adjusted well! My kid is lot emotional & me despite being a working woman since he was 5months had to deal with it:(

  14. oh, I still feel the pain of separation when sent my child to school for the first time. I agree that parents shouldn’t induce negative feeling in child by talking non-sense.

  15. I can absolutely relate to this jhilmil, My son is going to playgroup since yesterday and I can see all kids and parents going hysterical! Luckily my son is enjoying the experience, he is very excited to see all the kids there and have not cried yet. So I am just hoping he’ll be settled there soon.

  16. I recall going through similar feelings. I like the tips you offered. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  17. This is SO helpful, thank you!! Positiveness, YES. It makes a HUGE difference, and I’m so glad you highlighted this. I have two littles in pre-school, and I can’t tell you what a difference it makes if there is a positive vibe, vs. a negative one. Sometimes other parents can send my littles into a state of nervousness and anxiety, just by the load of negatively they are unloading on their child! I think we all could work on being more positive. After all, this is suppose to be a GOOD, FUN experience. Not one that comes with threats.

  18. I don’t think I had separation anxiety at school as a child but I knew other kids who did! I can imagine that it’s a horrible thing to have to deal with.

  19. Nice post to read, especially for parents with kids out there- this must be a helpful post for them. This reminds me of my childhood, during my first days in school. To tell you honestly, I was a cry-baby. 😀

  20. I’m not a mom, but this is a great tip when I become one in the future. We’re just concerned about letting our kids go. I feel that. Thank you for sharing

  21. These are all great tips that I learned through experience. Crying as communication is a great reminder for parents as to not become overwhelmed as it is a way that the child is trying to communicate.

  22. I’ve only experienced this as the teacher (my kids were delighted to start school – not sure what that says about me as a mum!) and I just wanted to reassure parents that children settle very, very quickly when they’re with their friends. So try not feel guilty or worried.

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