Step 4: Have a Positive Sendoff
A kid’s anxiety increases if you make too big of a deal about leaving or draw out the goodbye. The key is to establish a consistent pattern of goodbye so your child knows what ritual to expect, realizes she can make it through the time apart and that you really will return.
Here are a few things to help:
· Point him to “The first thing.” Not knowing what to do or where to go upon arriving at a new scene increases anxiety. So offer “first thing” suggestions.
For a young child: Point her towards an activity she enjoys—like a puzzle or blocks.
For an older child: Suggest he go to the basketball court that he enjoys or meet up with that acquaintance he met at the park near the water fountain.
· Say goodbye and don’t linger. Don’t draw out the goodbye…doing so actually increases anxiety. A simple and matter-of-fact:“See you soon! and then leave..is a better approach. A matter-of-fact: “See you soon” is better than long-drawn out ones. Don’t sneak!
· Stay calm and put on a happy face. Your child takes cues from you, so be cool to help show confidence in your child. Hold back those tears!
· Be on time. Be sure you or your designated caregiver picks your child up when you said and at the exact spot you prearranged. In fact, be there five minutes earlier for the pickup will eliminate the agonizing moments a child has waiting if you’re late. If he cries when you pick him take it as a compliment! It usually means he’s delighted to see you—not that he hates school.
· Be patient but know when to worry. Adjustment may take from a day to several weeks, so be patient. For most kids separation anxieties are normal and will pass. The key is to watch for a gradual increase in confidence and a diminishment of school and separation worries. If the anxiety continues or increases, check in with the teacher or counselor to see if they have suggestions to help your child adjust.
Adjustment may take from a day to several weeks, so be patient. Learning to say good-bye is just one more part of growing up. Helping your child learn to separate and handle life confidently without you is just one more important developmental milestone.
So hang in there! Happy back to school!