No matter which parenting style you are subscribed to or how adaptable your little one can seem to be at times, we have all experienced that gut-twisting feeling of a young offspring staring at you in horror as they realise they are about to be separated from their rock.
Even for those of us better equipped to shrug off the guilt, the more we can do to take the pain off from our shoulders, the better off everyone is and the more sociable our kids will be in the long run. So, what can cause separation anxiety, and how can we fix it, especially if we fear our kids might have a bad case of clinginess?
Back to School – Back to Separation?
As Back to School season fast approaches, it is more and more common for parents to become concerned about their children’s approach to separation anxiety. Even the most well-adjusted of kids can start to feel worried about the upcoming school routine and leaving the nest after a long summer of family time.
Here are some tips to help manage separation anxiety
1. Talk It Over
Simple, but hugely effective, although only for those of a certain age of course. Talk to your kid about how they are feeling. Do they understand what will be happening, and how do they feel about being away from home and from you, the parent? Is there anything about school that they are nervous about and how can you talk them through that? Let them know they can talk to you about anything and keep a good balance so as not to overwhelm them.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
This is particularly useful if your child is starting at a new school or in a new, consequential age bracket. Why not try a mini trial run? You can even reach out to the school and ask for a small tour of the classroom or meet the teacher, which, if possible, could get them excited about term time. Help them plan the best route and do the drive or walk, right up to the place where they will be dropped off and explain that this is where they will start their day with their friends.
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3. Try keepsakes or notes
For smaller (and bigger children really), you can give them a small item to carry with them that lets them know you are with them. It could be an item of clothing or a picture or something small that can fit in their backpack. That way if they feel worried or sad, they can lean on that during the day. You could also consider putting little notes in their bag or lunch box, so they have something to look forward to later on. Make sure not to show them beforehand and make them promise not to open it until they are at school.
4. Stay strong!
As painful as it might be for you, when you say goodbye, whether at the bus or the gates, you need to mean it. The more normal you can make the parting feel, the less likely it is to upset them, and you must never let them see you cry. You might also consider leaving as swiftly as possible. Watching you watch them won’t help with the worries, and you’d be surprised how many kids actually perk up not long after they can’t see their parents anymore.