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Separation Anxiety

Dealing with separation anxiety, especially when going to school, is something you and your child are bound to experience. It's natural for kids to feel anxious or upset when it's time to say goodbye to the one person they spend the most time with. This is a common child behavior. In fact, separation anxiety is a normal stage of development; however, it becomes excessive and out of hand when anxieties start getting in the way of school or daily activities.

Related Activity: Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety Behavior to Watch for

Your Child May Try This! Your child is going to try a variety of things to not be separated from you. Children may refuse to go to school, complain about physical ailments such as stomachaches and headaches, reject bed time and cling or claw onto you. All of this is going to be extremely hard to deal with when trying to get kids prepared for school. Once at school, it can lead to poor classroom behavior. Remember, this separation anxiety stage will eventually pass but to be prepared for it exercise the following behavior system:

  • Practice separation. Leave your child with a caregiver for a period of time, several times.
  • Try increasing the time limit a tiny bit each separation. This will help your child to realize that they will be okay when you're gone and that you're coming back.
  • Don't give in. Yes, kids will try to get you to stay by throwing tantrums or clinging on to you but you need to work around these things. If you give in once they'll continue the behavior every time you reach for the door.
  • Don't stall the inevitable. When you have to leave, you have to leave and stalling it just makes it worse for everyone involved. This will give your child more time to beg and plead with you and it's more likely to result in you giving in.
  • Develop a "goodbye" custom. This really helps. Every time you leave, practice the same goodbye ritual such as kissing your child's forehead, giving a high-five, etc. This will give your child comfort and trust in the situation, and decrease the separation anxiety.
  • Utilize positive re-enforcement tools (as part of a behavior system), to improve home, preschool, and kindergarten behavior.

Separation Anxiety Truth

Leaving is Inevitable¦ At some point you'll have to leave your child and it's important to prepare for the situation. Trying the above steps will help your child feel more secure about the loss of your presence. It's healthy to anticipate and talk about separation anxiety with your child so they don't think their feelings are unwarranted or out of the ordinary.