School Separation Anxiety Hissah EC Abu Dhabi

Getting into the school groove:

The long summer break is coming to an end. It’s time to do the dreaded – get the kids out of vacation mode – late nights and sleeping in, fun and play the only focus, and an absolute lack of routine- and into back-to-school mode. Time to get school uniforms in order, backpacks and lunchboxes ready, pencils sharpened. For many, you are used to the hustle bustle before the school year starts and that familiar look of excitement mixed with nervousness in your kid’s eyes. However, for many others you have a first-time school goer! It is a big milestone to cross, not just for the child but for the parents as well. It is the beginning of a whole new phase in your parenthood journey and it does come with its’ challenges.

Managing Separation:

The term ‘separation anxiety’ is fairly common and as parents I’m sure you have already experienced it. Once a child starts becoming more aware of their surroundings and the world around them, they begin to struggle with separating from their caregivers. Starting school is a major transition paired with being away from primary caregivers, so it’s natural for your child to feel anxious when you say goodbye to them at school. Although it can be challenging, separation anxiety is a normal stage of development. With understanding, patience and coping strategies, it can be relieved and should fade as your child gets older.

  • It is important to understand your child and what the best approach is for them, without comparing to other children. Always remember, every child is unique!
  • Having a conversation with your child beforehand about your drop-off procedure, including when you will be back and from where you will be picking them up from, will give them reassurance and help to ease their anxiety. Children need some routine predictability in their lives and sticking to a schedule will help them be more relaxed.
  • It is tempting to sneak out when your child is distracted, but try to avoid this as it is important to respect and maintain their trust. In fact, it will make settling in even more difficult for them as they tend to become more clingy when they develop a fear of being left alone.
  • Try to always appear relaxed with a smile on your face, no matter how nerve-wracking it may be to see your child distressed. Children pick up on nonverbal cues and can sense your anxiety, which then projects onto them causing them to react. The calmer you are, the calmer your child will be!
  • At home, you can try to set up a reward chart where you can put a sticker on each day your child separates from you without too much trouble. Make a game out of it or have a prize ready for them after they get a certain number of stickers.
  • It is also important to make sure your child has a nutritious breakfast before going to school because we all know how cranky a hungry child can get! A balanced meal at the start of the day will give them the energy boost they need in the morning before heading to school. Also, with school starting angst, parents sometimes forget to feed themselves. Make sure you get the right food in your system to have the stamina to face the day’s challenges.

Separating for the first time from primary caregivers and settling in at school is a process which doesn’t happen overnight. Some children have zero separation anxiety issues, while others take a longer time to settle. At the end of the day, every child deals with it differently, but with a little patience and lots of love – it is something you will conquer together!