Separation anxiety can be a tough thing for both parents and kids when it comes to daycare drop-off. Many parents aren’t 100% sure what to do, or how to handle it, and many even feel guilty for leaving their child in the midst of a bout of separation anxiety.
As daycare professionals, here are some things that we have found helpful over the years for parents trying to help their children through separation anxiety.
How Parents Can Help Their Kids With Separation Anxiety
Have a Morning Routine
Having a consistent and predictable morning routine will help instill a sense of security and stability in your child. When kids know what is going to come next, whether that’s breakfast time, brushing their teeth, or heading to school.
You can even add fun, creative things to your morning routine like bringing a favorite blanket in the car for comfort, playing a game or telling stories in the car, or a little routine between the two of you that will help build a connection between you and your child that makes it feel safe and easier to say goodbye when the time comes.
Once you have established a morning routine and drop-off ritual that works for you and your child, stick with it every day. Straying from the new, comfortable routine can break down a child’s trust in their environment and cause their anxiety to spike again.
Stick with Your Promises
Giving your child something to look forward to when you return is a great way to help ease their separation anxiety, like getting ice cream with you after school or going to the playground together.
Just make sure you follow through with your promise if you go this route. It won’t take your child long to realize that these incentives and promises don’t mean anything if you don’t follow through, and then the attempt to calm and comfort them will just cause more frustration and instability in their little minds.
Keep Your Goodbyes Short
While leaving your child might be hard for both of you, the shorter and sweeter the transition the better it ends up being in the long run.
The longer you hang around, the more your child’s anxiety will build. The caregivers are trained in how to help calm your child, so smile and give them a hug or kiss, and remind them that you will be together soon. Then walk away. Your child will start to learn that they are safe even if you aren’t there, so stay consistent with this as well.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your child’s separation anxiety be alleviated in just one day. These things take time, patience, and love.
Consistency will give you the practice you need to help your child start to feel comfortable and at peace when you leave them at daycare.