How to Help Your Child with Separation Anxiety at School

How to Help Your Child with Separation Anxiety at School

It's not unusual for young children to feel anxious about separating from their parents. 

After all, for most of their lives, they've been with you almost constantly.

So it's natural that it would take some time for them to adjust to being in school without you.

If your child is starting school or childcare and is showing signs of separation anxiety, there are things you can do to help ease their fears.

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Talk to Your Child About Their Anxiety and Explain Why They Might be Feeling This Way

Talk to your child about their anxiety and explain why they might be feeling this way.

Reassure them that you'll be back to pick them up at the end of the day. 

Some ways you can phrase this are:

  • "I know you're feeling a little anxious about starting school. It's natural to feel this way when you're separating from your parents, but I'll be back to pick you up at the end of the day."
  • "It's normal to feel scared when you're starting something new. But remember, I'll be here to pick you up at the end of the day."
  • "I know you're feeling sad about leaving me at school, but I'll be back to pick you up as soon as the bell rings."


You can also tell them about some of the fun things they'll get to do during the day, such as playing with their friends, learning new things, and having snack time.

Encourage Your Child to Make Friends

One of the best ways to ease separation anxiety at school is for your child to make friends at school. 

Encourage them to talk to other kids and participate in-class activities.

Help them understand that everyone feels a little anxious about starting school and that it's okay to ask for help from their friends or teachers..

Practice Being Apart

In the weeks leading up to school, you can help your child get used to the idea of being away from you by practicing short separations.

Start by leaving them with a trusted family member or friend for a few minutes, then gradually increase the amount of time they're away from you.

Make Drop-Off and Pick-Up Routines

Having a set routine for drop-off and pick-up can help ease your child's anxiety.

When you arrive at school, walk with them to their classroom and say goodbye. 

Then, at pick-up time, be there on time to collect them.

If possible, avoid changes to the routine, such as having someone else pick them up or coming late to pick them up.

Encourage them to talk about their day

When you're reunited at the end of the day, take some time to ask your child about their day.

Encourage them to tell you about the things they did and the other people that whom they may have communicated with.

This will help them feel more comfortable talking about their experiences and may help ease their anxiety about being away from you.

Help Them Understand That a School is a Safe Place and That They Will be Okay When They're Away From You

One of the main reasons children feel anxious about separating from their parents is because they're afraid something will happen to them.

You can help ease these fears by explaining that schools are safe places and that there will be adults there to help them if they need it.

You can also tell them about some of the things you do when you're away from them, such as going to work or running errands, to show them that people can be apart and still be safe.

If your child is still having difficulty separating from you, it's important to talk to their teacher or childcare provider. 

They may be able to offer additional support and guidance.

Encourage Them to Take Deep Breaths and Relax Their Body When They Start to Feel Anxious

One way to help your child calm down when they're feeling anxious is to encourage them to take deep breaths.

Tell them to breathe in slowly through their nose and out through their mouth.

As they breathe, have them focus on relaxing their body. 

They can start by tensing and then releasing their muscles, starting with their toes and working their way up to their head.

Before you say goodbye, remind your child that you love them, and will be thinking about them during the day.

Consider saying something along the lines of, "I love you so much, and I'll be thinking about you during the day."

Giving them a hug and kiss can also help.

Consider Using a Security Object Like a Favorite Toy or Blanket

For some children, having a security object with them at school can help ease separation anxiety at school. 

This could be a favorite toy, blanket, or even a photo of you.

Encourage them to keep it with them during the day and tell them that it will help them feel better when they're away from you.

Talk to Their Teacher About Your Child's Anxiety and Ask for Their Help in Making Your Child Feel Comfortable at School

If your child is still having difficulty separating from you, it's important to talk to their teacher or childcare provider. 

They may be able to offer additional support and guidance. 

Teachers are trained to understand these types of situations.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

Some children may need more help than others in dealing with separation anxiety at school. 

If your child is having a lot of difficulties, you may want to talk to their doctor about whether there might be another underlying issue, such as an anxiety disorder.

Conclusion

Separation anxiety at school is a normal part of child development. 

However, it can be tough for both parents and children when it starts to interfere with everyday activities like going to school.

There are several things you can do to ease your child's anxiety, such as practicing being apart, making drop-off and pick-up routines, and encouraging them to use a security object.

If your child is still having difficulty separating from you, it's important to talk to their teacher or childcare provider. 

They may be able to offer additional support and guidance.

In some cases, children may need more help than others in dealing with separation anxiety at school. 

If this is the case, you may want to seek professional help.

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