How to Help a Preschooler with Separation Anxiety

It's the rare child who isn't at least a little anxious about starting preschool. Below are few things parents can do the ease the separation anxiety.


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    Give him/her a sense of what to expect. Resist the temptation to say things like "It'll be the most fun you've ever had," or "There's nothing to be afraid of," and never belittle your child's fears or concerns. Instead, help calm his fears with information. Talk to him about what to expect when he gets to school — where he'll be going, what he'll be doing, and who will be in class with him. Before school begins, visit the classroom together at least once, preferably when other children and his future teacher(s) are there. You can also read stories about starting school. like Franklin Goes to School or similar.
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    Come up with a good-bye ritual. If this is the first time your child will be away from you, he may worry that you're not coming back, or that you'll get lost and won't be able to find your way back to the school to pick him up at the end of the day. Invent a special parting ritual — such as a high-five, or saying something like, "I'll be back to get you soon, long before we see the moon" — that you do each time you drop him off. During the first few days, allow extra time to get him ready and out the door in the morning, too. The more calm things are at home, the easier the separation will be. And though you might be tempted to sneak out without so much as a wave when you drop him off, don't do it. He will only be more distressed when he realizes you're gone. Instead, make a point of saying good-bye. Don't drag it out or let on that you might be upset, too. Just do it matter-of-factly and confidently and he'll learn to do the same. Honour your commitment to the child. Tell the child when you will come to pick up and adhere to the timing. If the child does not see you at the time told to him/her, the child may become anxious and may feel insecure to come to school the next day
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    Read to your child every day. Reading/ stories/ books is an important activity at preschool. Setting aside at least 15 minutes a day for reading time will make this a familiar ritual when school begins. Children who don't have early experiences with books often have difficulty learning to read later.Since preschoolers don't read independently, they need to learn to listen. Reading aloud to your child is a great way to help him develop listening skills. Stories with rhythm are particularly engaging, so look for books that repeat phrases. When he starts remembering the phrases, ask him to "read" with you. For instance, if you read *The Three Little Pigs,* after the wolf says, "Little pig, let me come in," let your child fill in the next line, "Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin." Your child will also learn to predict the outcome of a story in preschool. To help him prepare for this, you can stop midway through a reading and question him about what he thinks will happen next, or how he thinks the story will end.
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    Practice listening skills. Preschool often encourage their busy young pupils to listen and follow instructions. You can help your child prepare for this request by occasionally asking him to sit quietly and close his eyes. Then ask him to tell you all the different sounds he hears. Talk about what's making the sounds and where the sounds are coming from In preschool, children also learn to listen and follow directions that involve more than one step. Start asking your child to do a series of things, such as take his shoes to his room and put them in the closet. Or go to the bathroom and wash his hands and then come and help you set the dinner table. You can also play games that require your child to listen to directions, solve problems, and take turns. For instance, play I Spy in the car or on walks around your neighborhood. Give hints about something you see, "I spy with my little eye something that is...tall." Your child has to ask you questions about the object until he guesses what it is. Simon Says is another good listening-and-direction-following game.
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    Nurture the artist in residence. Creating art — whether it's finger-painting or molding clay — helps preschoolers develop the visual and fine motor skills they need to write. Keep paper, paints, crayons, and other art supplies on hand and encourage your child to create whenever he wants.
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    Plan more social activities. All preschool children have to get along with other kids. If your child hasn't spent much time in a group with other children, then activities such as sharing, taking turns, and playing cooperatively can be very difficult. Help your child get used to being part of a group by arranging play-dates with one or two peers.
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    Make the child familiar to the route to the school. You can do this by making it a ritual of greeting all the landmarks on the way, for example, “good morning Mr. coffee shop”, and so on. This will make the child familiar to the route from home to the school . Make sure your child has some breakfast before coming . A child is more likely to cry if he feels hungry in addition to feeling anxious.
    • If possible, please bring along a camera on the first day and click pictures in school of the class, the facilitator, of other kids, etc and show them to the child at home.
    • You can give the child something like a handkerchief and tell your child to take care of it in your absence during school hours.
    • Play games like hide and seek at home with your child where the child can easily find you. This assures them that even though you may go out of sight, you always come back.

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Categories: Merge | Preschool and Kindergarten