Separation Anxiety on the First Day of School

Summer is rapidly ending and school is almost back in session. The first day of school is usually very dreadful for kids, especially preschoolers. They often become very nervous and experience separation anxiety from their parents/guardians. Thus, it’s important for parents to prepare their children for the first day of school so that the day is less frightful for them and they feel more at ease during the drop off.

It’s often best for parents to first familiarize their child with the new environment by visiting their classroom a few times before school starts to get them used to the space. Explain to them that this is where they will meet their teacher, make new friends and do many fun activities. Some schools will even allow children to meet their teacher before the first day to get acquainted.

little girl crying on first day of school

Some Other Factors That May Reduce the Chances of Developing Separation Anxiety:

  • Having a babysitter for your child by six months of age can help the child feel comfortable with short periods away from the parents. It also encourages the child to build trust in other adults.
  • By age 3, introduce your child to play groups so they become accustomed to other toddlers and are better prepared for preschool.
  • Never make fun of or scold your child for their separation distress. The fear of being away from their parents/caregivers is a natural feeling for a toddler.
  • Keep telling your child about all the positive things that happen in school and how much fun they will have.
  • When shopping for school supplies, make it a special event just for your child. Get them excited about using all the cool supplies when they go to school.
  • Children find ease and feel safer with their favorite toy or stuffed animal so ask the teacher whether your child can bring something from home in case they need comforting. You can gradually phase these objects out as your child feels more settled in the new environment.
little boy on first day of school

Keep in mind your child’s separation anxiety may not only be on the first day of school; it may last the first week of school or even the first couple of weeks. Yet, the degree of separation difficulty may differ from day to day – one day your child may be excited to go to school and another day they may be clingy and sad. However, the more calm you are when dropping off your child at school, the more confident your child will be. Having said that, don’t linger when saying goodbye to your child because the longer you stay the harder it is for them.

It’s also important to know what the teacher’s procedures are when children start crying for their parents on the first day and first week of school. At Little Friends School a staff member is always ready to help make the drop off as easy as possible by explaining to your child how much fun the day is going to be.

 
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