Back-to-school season can be a fun and exciting time for students and parents alike. School offers new classes, new friends and new experiences. However with all these new moments comes the chance for separation anxiety, which is actually quite common among new preschoolers.
For some kids, preschool will be the first time they are separated from their parents for long periods of time—this can be frightening for young children. However there are steps you can take as a parent to prepare your child for the first day of school. These steps can help make that first day of school more exciting, rather than nerve-wracking.
- Start with a run through. Many athletes will do a walk-through when they encounter a new track or field. This helps them become familiar with the terrain and their surroundings, so that on race day they aren’t distracted or unnerved by new surroundings. The same concept applies to children attending a new school. Many schools offer meet-the-teacher or school preview days, which provide the opportunity for a child to explore this new environment with mom or dad present and holding their hand. This eliminates some of the unfamiliarity that can cause fear on a child’s first day of school.
- Hit the books. Children’s books were written to help parents relate to children, and meet them on their level. Several books, such as Llama Llama Misses Mama and The Kissing Hand, can help start a conversation with your child about what their separation fears are, so that you have a chance to address them in the comfort of your home, and not on the curb when dropping them off for the first day of school.
- Create a routine and stick to it. Part of a child’s fear on the first day of school comes from fear of the unknown. A simple way to eliminate a bit of this fear is to create a routine at home for school mornings. Practice this routine the week before school starts, so that it becomes comfortable and familiar for your child.
- Pack a bit of home. Research has shown that an item “that smells like mom will help the child feel less anxious.” Whether it’s a snuggly blanket or fluffy teddy bear for your child to cuddle at recess or naptime, a little bit of mom’s scent can go a long way.
- Create a goodbye ritual. A few smiles and a high five can go a long way for both parent and child when sending them off to school for the first time. A secret handshake creates a bond, letting your child know that mommy isn’t leaving, she’s just saying goodbye for a little bit while you go off to make new friends.
- Tip: keep it short and simple. A long, drawn-out goodbye makes it harder to eventually leave.
For even more tips on beating back-to-school anxiety, check out this gallery from Parenting.com. To learn more about family health and parenting tips and advice, visit us at Any Baby Can and register for one of our affordable parenting classes, or give us a call at 512.454.3743.