August marked the first day of face-to-face classes since the pandemic. Students of all grade and year levels are more than excited to return to school and see their classmates again. Another sight that parents see after two years is a daycare center filled with crying preschoolers.
During the first day of classes, preschoolers will cry in their room when their parent leaves them. Parents usually feel guilt, frustration, or sadness when they see their toddler cry as they drop them off. As a parent, it is normal to feel these emotions, and crying is also a normal response for children on their first day of school.
If you are a parent, here are some tips that you can do to prevent your kids from having separation anxiety during face-to-face classes.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety is when a child becomes extremely upset after separation from parents or primary caregivers. It is usual for a child to experience separation anxiety when going to school as it is a typical sign of healthy attachment to their parent.
Despite being normal, parents should teach their children they will be fine for a few hours without them. If not treated, normal separation anxiety can turn into a separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder can make your child agitated just by thinking you are going away.
What causes separation anxiety in children?
Your child might experience separation anxiety during face-to-face classes because it is their first time getting away from you. During the pandemic, parents had more time with their kids. Some kids may have difficulty adjusting because their parents will be out for longer.
Of course, the new environment can be terrifying for them as well. For preschoolers, it is their first time being in a room with people they haven’t met. And for some, it can be scary. Aside from being away from their parents, children have to bear the stress of being somewhere they don’t know without their guardians.
How to prevent separation anxiety
Tell them what school is like
One of the best ways to prevent separation anxiety from your kid is by telling them what school is like. Before the first day of school, you can orient them about the teacher, the activities, and even the time you will fetch them. That way, they can somehow adjust slowly to the new environment of their school.
Always be consistent
Having a consistent routine can eliminate separation anxiety from your child. As a parent, it is best to drop them off and fetch them from school simultaneously. If you’re coming late, you can tell them beforehand so they won’t worry. Having a routine establishes what everyday situations look like during school days.
Practice short separations
Another great way to prevent separation anxiety is by training your child to be on their own. You can slowly go away from them for different periods. Gradually increase the time you are away from them so they can have the notion that nothing wrong will happen to them once their parent is away for a short period. This way, they can get used to being left alone or with another trusted guardian.
Listen to your child
If your child experiences separation anxiety, it is best to try to understand their situation and why they have this feeling. Your child will not benefit from not talking about their feelings. So, as a parent, you should listen attentively and gently remind them why they need to go to school and how they survived the last separation without anything terrible happening to them. If your child cried during drop-off, you could ask them about their feelings and what happened when you got home.
Maintain a good outlook
Being calm and collected is the best way to prevent separation anxiety. If your kid sees you calm during separation, they are more likely to be calm too. As a parent, you should encourage them to do different school activities so that they won’t think of separation. And if your kid slowly adjusts to separation, you should commend them for their effort and achievement.
Always say goodbye
It would be best if you never sneaked out of your child’s school once they were dropped off and distracted. There is a chance that their mood will be ruined once they realize that you have left already. They might spend all day looking for you or getting worried that you went home without them.
It would be best if you always said goodbye to your child before leaving not to leave them worried. Your goodbye should be fun but firm and brief. It would help if you also told them when you would return to reassure them that they are not being left there for good. Some parents even have a goodbye tradition, like hugging and kissing their child before leaving.
What to do after class?
After their face-to-face class, you can ask the teacher how your child’s day went. Here are some of the questions you can ask your child’s teacher:
- How long your child cry (if they did) after dropping them off
- How does your child adjust to their first day of school
- How her day went
You would better understand your kid once you know the answers to these questions and adjust accordingly to your child. It would help if you also reminded yourself that separation anxiety is normal for toddlers. Do not feel that you are a horrible parent just because your child cried at school while other kids didn’t.
It would help if you understood that things would improve and your child would most likely get used to being left at school for classes. And if you think your child has a severe separation anxiety disorder, it’s better to consult an expert.
Every kid has their adjustment period when it comes to face-to-face classes. As a parent, you must make sure that your kid feels safe and secure.
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