It's normal for your child to feel anxious and even sad on their first day of preschool; however, 4% of children will continue to experience separation anxiety during any given school year. If this applies to your child, it's crucial that you are sensitive to your child's needs and are willing to work out their feelings with them, especially when you drop them off at preschool. Don't try to sneak your way out of the room while your child is distracted. Instead, help your child face their anxieties and fears head-on using the following 3 tips.
Create a Goodbye Ritual
Saying goodbye is always difficult even if your child knows that you're going to be picking them up at the end of the day. Developing a routine with your child can really help make the drop off go a lot smoother. Create a goodbye ritual with your child in order to ease their fears and anxieties. There are many different things you can do to make your goodbye feel a lot more intimate and special. Some common rituals include:
- A special handshake or a special wave that only you and your child knows;
- A certain saying followed by a hug, kiss or even a high five; and,
- A song or even little dance.
Don't be afraid to be silly. Your child will appreciate it, and it will help them get through the school day with a lot more ease. If you're at a loss as to what you should do, the preschool will normally be able to provide you with some recommendations. The teachers might even want to participate in the goodbye ritual as well.
Acknowledge Your Child's Feelings & Work Through Them
Don't silence your child or attempt to avoid their feelings about getting dropped off to preschool. Acknowledge your child's feelings and help them work through them. Don't put words in their mouth when you reinforce their feelings. For example, instead of saying, "I know you hate going to preschool", you can try saying something like, "I hear you saying you don't want to go." Follow up your acknowledgements with words of encouragement. Let them know just how proud you are of them for trying out new experiences and learning new things at school everyday.
With that said, you should also reinforce this attitude by asking your child about their day at school when you pick them up. Show interest in what they've done and what they've learned, and be excited. Your excitement will rub off on them and perhaps make them feel more interested and excited to go to school,
Let Your Child Bring a Small Transitional Item to Preschool
Being away from home can be hard. Going to preschool can seem daunting and scary to some children. It might help your child to bring a small transitional item to school with them, like a small blanket or even a stuffed animal. Check with the preschool first to see whether there are any restrictions in regards to the type of items that can be brought along. Some preschools are more strict than others.
Allowing your child to bring a small transitional item with them whenever they feel anxious can help remind them of home and feel comforted. You can even consider writing them a note in their lunchbag as a transitional item. A new personalized note each day can really lift your child's spirits up.
The first couple days or weeks of preschool is usually the hardest. Your child might have a difficult time adapting or getting used to the new environment; however, if you persist and continue to send positive vibes, your child will eventually grow out of the social anxiety and feel more excited and adventurous in tackling new tasks and learning new skills. To learn more, contact services like Sammamish Montessori School.