Child & Parent Separation Anxieties: What to Do!

It’s quite natural for parents and children, alike, to be anxious when a child is ready to be away from their parent…whether it is childcare or preschool or kindergarten!  Making the transition away from mom or dad can be a learning experience for both parent and child.  Here are some thoughts, based on many years of helping parents and children, make their first days of preschool and kindergarten comforting for the parent and empowering for the child.

First Day of School

Signs of Separation Anxiety In the Child

  •  -Says they don’t want to go to school
  •  -Resists getting ready in the morning
  •  -Cries when her parent leaves the school
  •  -Wanders instead of choosing something to do
  •  -Avoids teachers
  •  -Withdraws into thumb sucking or wets pants
  •  -When the parent comes to pick him up, he runs away or wants to stay & play
  •  (it’s your turn to wait, as he has waited for you)
  •  -Complains to the parent that she’s afraid of the other children or that others hurt him
  •  -Gets angry with parents or siblings (about very little)
  •  -Complains of a tummy ache before school


Signs of Separation Anxiety In the Parent

  • -Finding reasons for being late to school
  • -Needing to “explain” the child to the teachers
  • -Feeling overly critical of the teachers
  • -Ashamed or angry if her child cries
  • -Trying to leave the school without saying “good-bye”
  • -Saying “good-bye” more than once a day
  • -Frustration at not knowing what the child did at school today
  • -Asking teachers “how he/she did” each day
  • -Feeling as though you must stay in class with your child
  • -Getting angry with husband, child, or self (about very little)


What To Do?

  • 1. Be Prepared- Know in advance that some of these feelings are normal, and know their signs. If you have decided your child is ready and have taken care to choose a school you can trust, then relax and rely on the judgment you made at a less trying moment to carry you through the separation period.
  • 2. Be Honest with your feelings- If it is hard to say good-bye, then let it be hard. Phony cheerfulness won’t make it go away faster.
  • 3. Let your child have his/her feelings- Let him/her know it is okay to feel sad, or scared, or mad — and still go to school. This will lay the foundation in helping your child understand that although new experiences bring many positive and negative feelings, he/she can still forge ahead and jump into the new situation life brings, ready to face all the ups and downs that life will bring!
  • 4. Give support with your positive expectations- Remember that you are happy that she/he can go to school, that she/he will have other kids to play with, and that you expect her/him to like it as you do.
  • 5. Let him/her walk into school- This will give him a feeling of independence. Carrying her/him into school will make her feel like a baby.
  • 6. Give special attention at home for awhile- Set aside some “loving time” just for him/her every day, so your child can count on it.


Having new experiences is a natural part of life.  We want to help young children and their families grow and develop in a way that is most conducive to a happy, healthy life.  Call Mrs. Root at 480-899-2980 to learn more about our program and our positive approach to education!


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