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First Day of School: Helping Your Child Deal With Separation Anxiety

It’s officially the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. It’s time for your kids to go back to school. The transition from summer vacation to school can be difficult for some kids. If you have a child that is especially clingy and doesn’t deal well with change, then you may encounter some issues with the transition. How do you soothe a child with separation anxiety?

Children are creatures of habit. A change in schedule and routine can be difficult for some. If your child is going to school for the first time, they may exhibit some fear and hesitation. Pay attention and look for signs of anxiety. As a parent it is important that you help your child cope with the transition in the healthiest way. Help them see the fun in going back to school. Approach it in a fun way!

Practical ways to deal with separation anxiety

Let’s explore some ways to make the transition to the back to school year easier.

Encourage communication. Take time to speak to your child the night before school starts. Ask them about their expectations for the school year. Have them share their fears and expectations, and don’t undermine their concerns. Validate their feelings. Let them know that you’re there to listen to them and encourage. It’s important that they feel safe and understood.

Make the transition positive. Try not to linger when leaving your child at school the first day or so. Make it a positive experience and encourage your child by telling them what a fun day they’ll have at school. Stalling or even crying can make the situation worse for them by creating insecurity. Don’t ask them if they’re afraid. Fear is a bit contagious. If they see your fear or insecurity, they’ll feel unsure. Instead focus on the positive things they’ll experience while at school.

Take familiar items. Dogs often gravitate towards a sock or item that reminds them of their owners when left alone. Children are the same way when it comes to their blankies and other familiar items. You may want to have your child take a toy or item that makes them comfortable to school with them. They may not be allowed to hold it during the day, but their teacher might make an exception during naptime.

Have a consistent caregiver. Having a child care provider early in their life allows your child the opportunity to feel more comfortable with others in and out of school. Even going to summer camp can help them engage with other children in social situations on an on-going basis. If they can become more comfortable with strangers, engaging in activities that bring them out of their comfort zone, then they’ll have an easier time transitioning into new situations.

Give them space.

Your role as a parent is to teach and guide your children. You can be there to help make their transition easier for them, but don’t fret if it takes some time for your child to get used to the changes and not having you around all of the time. Children go through many stages in life and it’s perfectly normal for them to have fear about a new situation. Support and love them, but allow them the freedom to adjust to their new surroundings on their own.

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