Experts define separation anxiety as a condition wherein a child feels nervous and afraid when their parents or guardians leave them. This condition often manifests in very young children, especially when they begin to attend daycare or preschool. If your child is about to start preschool in Salt Lake City, Utah, follow these tips to deal with separation anxiety:
Be consistent with your goodbye ritual
If you sent your child to daycare when he was younger, you might already have a ritual when dropping him off. If you still don’t have one, though, it’s not too late to start. What’s more important is that your routine remains consistent when preparing your child to go to preschool and when saying a quick goodbye. Pacify his fears and reinforce the ritual by consistently coming back to pick him up. Constant changes can confuse the child and worsen anxiety.
Grant your child some virtual alone time at home now and then, where you can allow him to play on his own while you remain somewhere outside his immediate vicinity. This activity can enable the child to adjust slowly to an environment where his parent is not immediately accessible, as well as promote independence. Suddenly exposing the child to separation could worsen his anxiety.
Don't sneak off!
Whether you're leaving your child with another adult at home or dropping him off at preschool, never sneak off. Doing so could send a bad message to your child, making him even more anxious and fearful. Communicate directly with your child so that he does not misunderstand your absence. Also, avoid playing hide-and-seek without him knowing it’s just a game.
Dealing with Separation Anxiety
There are no clear cut methods to prevent separation anxiety in a child, but it is important that you recognize its symptoms so that you can minimize its effects by preparing your child for the milestone of preschool. Remember, go slowly but surely.