Separation anxiety is a natural or common problem for any preschooler, especially during the first few weeks of school. Although starting preschool is a marvelous milestone, it often comes with lots of crying, uncertainty, and heel digging. “For children, the main source of anxiety around entering preschool is that they have absolutely no idea what to expect,” says Katrina Green, a certified early childhood and early childhood special education teacher at the Just Wee Two program in Brooklyn, New York. We may also see some separation anxiety in children after an illness, a short vacation, or even a long weekend, where they have been accustomed to being at home for that period of time.

Coping with this separation could be very challenging for both kids and parents, yet parents could try the following tips to get through the hard time on the first few days of school.


Keep talking good things concerning the preschool: You may make a few visits to the preschool in the weeks leading up to the first day. Keep talking to your child about the name and good things about the school. If possible, spend time walking your child to the play areas, classrooms or simply walk around outside. 


Prepare a nice backpack and some school materials: Having the lovely and favorite backpack along with school materials for your child would make them feel more excited and look forward to her or his first day of school.


Choose the best school for your child: Make sure that you have made the right decision in selecting your child’s first school. Schools that focus on quality, discipline and services with safe and engaging facilities are very likely to rank high on your list.  Check out a few different places, ask for referrals from other parents, and spend a few hours in each school that you are considering.  Is this a place where s/he will feel comfortable?  Finding the right fit for your child is extremely important. 


Don’t show the worried and concerned face to the kid: Remember that children do pick up on your mood, even if they cannot yet articulate their feelings, so try to remain calm and positive about your child going to school, especially if it is for the first time.


Establish a short goodbye: Take your child to the classroom with a happy face, hug them, tell them that you love them. In addition, tell them what time you will come back to pick them up, and then leave. Do not stay or return if your child begins to cry.  


Don’t go too early or be late picking up your child: For the first few days, parents are suggested to take the child to school on time and not too early.  By the same token, be there on time to pick up your child. Being on time is especially important during the first few days of school. If they believe that you will be there to pick them up when you said you would, then they will be more likely to separate easily. 


Having a well-thought-out plan can help ease the hard situation related to anxiety separation, for both you and your child. Remember, stay calm, be positive, and trust the teachers to handle the situation once you leave. Keep to a regular routine as much as possible. 


-By Chansoma Yen