Starting school post-lockdown feels like the first day of the new school year. This day comes with a combination of different emotions from excitement to uncertainty. We wonder how our children will cope being back at school. This is a traumatic event not only for the child but the parent as well. Leaving your child behind in destress is never easy, however, rest assure that they still have a good day after you leave, and their tears have been wiped away. Toddlers understands object permanence—the idea that something continues to exist when it can't be seen or heard but they are not able to understand time as yet. This is why they feel a huge amount of anxiety when they are left at school as they don’t yet understand when you will be returning to get them after school.
Here are a few easy and practical tips in dealing with separation anxiety;
· Be quick with your goodbyes; The longer you wait, the harder it gets to leave them behind. This creates more anxiety for both the child and parent. You can even think of a fun parting ritual like a high five or a goodbye song.
· Consistency is key; Try to establish the same morning routine when dropping off your child. They struggle to deal with constant change and a balanced routine creates a sense of safety and predictability.
· Prepare your child for what is going to happen prior to arriving at school; You can even start as early as the night before. Remember to communicate in a manner which the child will be able to understand. For example; “One sleep than you will be going back to school.”
Remember that Separation Anxiety is a normal part of your toddler’s development and they will outgrow this behaviour.
· Toddler Taming Tips: Dr Christopher Green, 2003