This is a HUGE subject, so no forum post will cover it adequately, but I’ve been approached by a few friends whose children are struggling with separation anxiety, especially as they move closer to starting school next year.
(Our ‘Ready, Steady, Parent’ book will deal with this, so stay tuned!)
But, in the meantime, here are some gentle pointers:
– Discussing the unknown with your child (in a positive light) will do wonders for any anxiety they might have. Talk about fond memories you might have from school, your favourite teacher and fun things that you learnt at school.
– Practise getting ready for school and even go as far as taking the school drive. This will give them some familiarity with how their mornings will look. (If possible, take a tour of the school, or ask for permission to walk around the grounds after school- again, familiarity will ease some anxiety).
– Practise having time away from your child. I know this sounds harsh, but if you give them 1) an exact time that you’ll return and 2) some sort of special goodbye routine that you could continue when they start school, then they will gradually get used to the idea of time away from you and of knowing it will come to an end. This is particularly relevant for children that haven’t attended a pre-school program and aren’t used to time away from their primary caregivers.
– Finally, children are amazing at sensing their parent’s feelings, including anxiety. So, if you are feeling anxiety as well, try your best to work through it away from your child(ren). Speak to other adults. Recognise that ‘letting go’ is hard and it’s completely natural to feel some sadness about your child growing up. However, they need a positive base to give them the best start. (Save the tears for the pantry when you’re hiding in there with a box of Tim Tams ;)).
Hope this helps.