Preschool Separation Anxiety

Preschool Age  Separation Anxiety may be the most exhausting form of separation anxiety.  Usually related to a new stress such as going to preschool for the first time,  going to a play date without a parent, having a new sibling, or moving to a different house.  This usually lasts only a few weeks.  Preschool separation anxiety is common and normal. Children are in an unfamiliar place when they start a new school and they are not sure who to trust.  In preschool, they have to share the attention of the teacher with all the other children. This is a very big milestone in a preschool child’s life.

5 Tips for Handling Preschool Separation Anxiety

1. Let your child know it’s okay to feel uneasy at first.  (Normalize his feelings).  Let him know he will be able to  handle his feelings by reminding him of another time when he did just that.

2. Make a book or story about the  change and read it to your preschooler    ( check Marilee’ blog about making books).

3.  Plan some extra one-on-one time  with your preschool age child.   (example: have your child pick his/her favorite game to play with you).

4. Develop a predictable bedtime routine.  This is especially helpful when your child is having a tough time.    It helps to show him/ her that there is order in her world.

5.  After completing a planned and thoughtful transition with your preschool age  child,  he/she  should adjust to being left at preschool without difficulty.  Make your “good- bye” short and sweet.  Don’t linger.  Say “bye-bye”  followed by ” see you after school”  with a smile  and  a confident  wave.  Then leave. Prolonging the leaving will make your child wonder if there is something wrong.  It will make him/ her feel anxious.

For support with separation issues and any other early childhood questions  give us a call at the early childhood development associates (323-655-5580) on melrose.

Marilee Hartling, RN, MFT and Ariko Yoshizawa, MA