by: James Druman
If only our children knew that leaving them behind at their first day care, in a strange place with strangers, is as hard for them as it is for us. But when it comes down to it, we are the parents and we have to shoulder the responsibility of accepting the separation with a neutral look on our faces, no matter how rough things are inside. It a necessary part of growing up, for all involved—here are five tips for dealing with the mutual heartache and overcoming separation anxiety.
One of the best ways to eliminate separation anxiety is to make sure you will be leaving your child with familiar faces—this is why over time, as they get to know their teachers and peers, it becomes a non-issue. So socialize with the other parents to help speed up the familiarization process.
Plan outings and play dates together so your children can get to know each other a little more. If it is as all a possibility, try getting to know some of the other families before preschool even starts so there are familiar people there on the first day.
2. Stay in Control
Whatever you do, it's your job to stay in control. Of course it is emotional for you too, but your child cannot know that. Paint a picture of their day in day care as something that is going to be a blast for them and don't talk about how much you will miss each other or feed their emotions in other ways.
Say your goodbyes and get going. If you get overly-emotional, you're only feeding their sense that something is not right and encouraging them to follow your lead.
3. The Teacher is Your Friend
The teacher is your greatest asset in a situation like this, but some parents find themselves treating a new teacher with distrust and even being rude to them, as if the teacher has something to prove. You should have done enough at this point to know whether or not they are worth trusting, and your behavior is much more obvious to your child than you realize—if you don't trust them, why would they?
Teachers do this all the time and are trained to deal with children in this emotional state—they have a lot they could teach you. If your child seems to be having more problems than most, and you find yourself concerned, you may want to make a meeting on an off-day and discuss the best way to conquer the issue while your child is busy with something else.
4. Practice Clean Goodbyes
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is getting the exit all wrong. Some parents stretch it out and make it more emotional than it needs to be, laying on hug after hug or waiting for them to get used to their surroundings. This sends the signal that you are as unsure about the new environment as they are.
Another common mistake is a parent waiting for their child's attention to be momentarily distracted and then just disappearing—this is a sure recipe for building mistrust in your relationship and leaving them on their toes about whether or not they can count on you to be there.
Instead, you should make your goodbyes clear. Be upfront and honest about the situation beforehand, and then, when it's time to go, say goodbye, tell them you will see them in a little while, and then get going. Be confident in your decision.
5. Be Dependable
Just like disappearing out the back door makes your child question whether they can count on you, so can showing up late. Be aware of this because sometimes when we get to killing our newfound time, we lose track of the day.
Leaving a child waiting is sure to manifest as bigger problems next time around, so if there is any reason you might be a little bit late, call the providers and let them know. Don't take advantage of their time too much, as they have lives outside their jobs too, but when there's no way around it, let everyone know so they can adjust accordingly.
Separation anxiety is something most parents will have to confront at one time or another, but at the end of the day, it is just another growing pain. Make it easier on both you and your children by implementing these simple tips.
About The Author
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by: James Druman