Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tips for Coping with Separation

When I was teaching preschool, I soon learned that some children have a hard time with the separation from their parents. Some kids act like they could care less. They wave and are ready to be on their own. For other children, it may take a few weeks for them to feel secure in their new environment. Here are some tips to help out with the transition.

  • Let your child help with the morning routine. Dressing, packing lunch, or choosing something special to bring to school might help your child feel more in control of the process of leaving the house and saying goodbye.

  • Plan your goodbye routines together. Decide how you will say goodbye at school and what you will do when you get home.

  • Remain calm and confident. Your child will quickly notice if you feel uneasy.

  • Think of ways to reinforce the link between home and school. Encourage your child to make things at home to contribute to the classroom. This could be art work for teachers or friends, special foods for snacks, props you find or make at home, or books to share.

  • Decide on a special toy or object that your child can bring to school. This can be a family photograph, a favorite stuffed animal, a toy, or something that belongs to you, such as a scarf of handkerchief.

  • Connect and communicate with your child's teacher when you say goodbye. This will help your child to feel secure and know that you will be back.

  • Make goodbyes short and sweet. The longer you linger, the worse it becomes. Walk your child to class (or drop off), give a quick kiss and hug, say "Have a great day. I'll be back at XX time to get you." Then leave. Try to keep this routine the same at least for the first few weeks until the child is settled.

  • Don't allow yourself to be manipulated. Some may be surprised or even offended at this tip, but I have witnessed a lot of parents being manipulated over the years. Some children think that if they scream long enough and loud enough then you will come to pick them up. If you give in to their screams, they'll only continue to do this. Eventually, you have to let them go, have confidence in their teachers, and give your children the independence that they need.

  • Focus on the positive. Be excited when you pick up your child. Ask them what cool and exciting things happened that day. When I was teaching, I sang a few songs with my students that helped to focus on the positives of school. You might try, We Had a Happy Day and I Like to Go to School.

You might also like some of the tips shared at Boston Mamas.

Do you have any tips to add to this list?


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