Leaving the Littles Ones

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Saying goodbye can be the hardest moment for parents and children. Though separation anxiety is a
perfectly normal part of childhood development, it can be unsettling. Understanding what your child is
going through and having a few coping strategies ready can help both of you get through it.
Here are some tips on how to ease the separation anxiety and help with tear-free goodbyes:
Introduce/reintroduce the teacher to your child. Allow them to form an initial relationship. Make it
clear that you trust the teacher and are at ease with him/her watching your child.
Bring a friend from home. Ask the teacher whether your child can bring along a stuffed animal to keep
in his/her cubby in case they need comforting. It shouldn’t be their favourite one, though, because there’s
no guarantee it will come home in one piece. 😉 Other favourite choices include a family picture, a special
doll, or a favourite blanket.
When it’s time to go, make sure to say goodbye to your child. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may
be, leaving without saying goodbye to your child risks his/her trust in you.
Once you say goodbye, leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s
sense that school is a bad place.
Express your ease with leaving. Some parents wave from outside the classroom window or make a
funny goodbye face. Don’t linger. The longer you stay, the harder it is. Let your child know that you’ll be
there to pick him/her up and say, “See you later!” once they’ve gotten involved in an activity.
Create your own ritual. Some mums and dads say goodbye in the same way every day: You may kiss
him/her on the lips and give him/her a butterfly kiss (your eyelashes on their cheek), and then rub noses
and hug. When the embrace is over, the child knows it’s time for him/her to go to work.
Consider a reward system. Give your little one his/her own calendar. If they go to class without putting
up a fuss, put a smiley face on the calendar (otherwise, put a sad face). On Friday, if your child has five
smiley faces, make him/her a treasure hunt as a treat.
Learn the other kids’ names. When you can call your child’s classmates by name (“Look, Matthew, there
is a space at the train table with Eli and Katie”), it makes school seem much more familiar and safe.
Bringing Comfort Objects from Home:
 You can leave the “lovey” at home and instead get a T-shirt made with a picture of the toy.
 Lunchbox love notes are a great way to let your child know you’re thinking of them while they’re
at school.
 Blanket statement: Cut a tiny piece off their blanket that they can keep in their pocket and touch
when they need a pick-me-up.