Tips for Dealing with Separation Anxiety

boy holding her mother's legsUsually, separation anxiety happens when children are in preschool, which means… it’s kinda not mandatory.  But, let’s be honest, the socialization is great for our kids, and it’s nice to have time for a shower.  It’s such a ridiculous experience if you think about it, you’re torturing your child and yourself and the whole time you’re asking, “For what?”  For three hours of freedom, which you’re going to spend worried and upset?  When it’s happening, all your parenting instincts are telling you to go in and save your child from this injustice and then finally the teacher pops out and says something like, “It’s okay mom, she’s doing great.”  Meanwhile, you hear the dry heaving in the back ground.

1)      Never sneak out.

This is the number one rule in leaving a sad child.  It’s so tempting because one minute your child is screaming and then they’re distracted by an old friend or a fish tank for a split second and you’re like, “wahoo.”   As soon as the fish or the friend get boring, and they will, your child is searching for you.  Now, you’ve lost her trust and the cycle starts over, except this time you’re not there to reassure her.

2) Always tell them, “Mommy will be back.”

Will you come back?  It’s such a gut wrenching thing to hear.  You need to let them know you’ll both be fine without each other for a short span of time and that you always come back.  Let’s be honest sometimes mommy never leaves.  I spent the first two days of my son’s nursery school in the coffee break room.  It was this tiny little closet with enough room for me and a coffee machine and me.  By the end of the day I was shaking and I’m not sure if it was all the caffeine or my own fear.

3) Make your exit short and sweet.

If you make a production out of leaving  while you’re giving ten thousand hugs kisses, you’re leaving yourself open for second guessing and you’ll end up with a kid wrapped around your leg.  I have been there with a hysterical daughter being pulled away from me, it’s gut wrenching and truly makes you wanna consider home-schooling or just dropping school all together.  You’re thinking, she’s four hasn’t she learned everything that she needs to know to get by in life?  ABC’s are totally overrated.  I’m sure they’re come up with something to replace literacy in the near future.  You know, like what the calculator did for addition?

4) Be Prepared

You need to be ultra prepared with time to spare in the morning.  Do what you have to do the night before; whether it’s packing lunches the night before, putting out clothes, having talks with the kids to address any fears or concerns, meditating.  You want the kids up and fed and mentally awake.  You don’t want to be rushing or send them out in a rush because that only causes more stress for everyone.

5)      Keep your own anxiety to yourself.

Parents have different fears than kids and it’s does no good to let them know about yours.  Save it for your best friend, your mom, or your therapist.  I followed the bus the first time my son took one.   I’m such a worrier.  If I told my son he would think I was insane, so let’s all keep that one hush hush.

5 thoughts on “Tips for Dealing with Separation Anxiety

  1. Karen Baitch Rosenberg

    Great advice. Also, new students (are they students in pre-school??) tend to benefit from an early “sneak peak” at their room before school starts.Gives them a chance to find their desk/table, locker/cubby, and have some one-on-one with his or her teacher. As for you, JFB, don’t walk – RUN to the gym and get your anxiety out there. Great post. You must’ve had some great parenting models :).

  2. Bari

    Sometimes it’s the parents’ issue altogether and not the childs’. First day of pre- school I dropped my little girl off to her new teacher. My daughter happily walked in, began playing and never looked back. I was hiding around the corner of the wall. I stared at the scene in disbelief. It seemed my little buddy didn’t need me as much as I needed to be needed!


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