separation anxiety in children

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separation anxiety in children

Separation anxiety in children can easily become overwhelming but these easy tips will make things a lot easier! These ideas are perfect for dealing with the separation anxiety that comes up when kids are starting preschool or are going through other similar changes.

His hands were wrapped around my feet and I could see in his eyes that he was really scared. We were in front of his new preschool class and separation was so hard for him!

I took him in my arms and went to a quiet place in the school’s yard. I listened to his worries and I reminded him of everything we talked about that day. He asked me if I could stay with him just a little time after we enter the classroom.

I agreed and we both went inside. He sat at the table playing with some toys and I watched him from the corner of the room. From time to time he was looking at me just to make sure that I’m still there. Ten minutes later he came to me and told me that he is ready to stay there on his own.

He gave me a big hug and I left while he was going back to his toys. I stopped outside, in front of the classroom, and I realized that every new stage in his life fills both of us with so many emotions! It wasn’t just him who felt emotional about that day. I did too.

We went through several moments like this in the last 4 years from the day he first went to daycare to every first day at a new preschool (he went to 3 different preschools in 2 years). Now we are getting ready for a new start as he is preparing for the beginning of his last year of preschool.

And the truth is that each of these moments brings emotions for both of us but especially for him.

We dealt with separation anxiety every time but after all these experiences I learned many tips that make things easier for us.

I will share here the things that worked best for us and I hope that they will help you deal easier with any changes that might bring separation anxiety in your kids.

separation anxiety in childrenphoto credit: unguryanu /

5 ways to ease separation anxiety in children

1. Talk about what will happen

If the child will experience a big change like going to daycare, starting preschool, or staying with a babysitter, separation anxiety is normal. Talking about what will happen is a good way to help kids overcome their fears and worries.

Tell your child how their day will look like while they will be apart from you. Let them know when you’ll return and reassure them that you will always come back.

Additional tip:

  • Instead of talking about time by referring to hours it’s a lot more helpful to refer to different moments of the day. (e.g. Instead of telling the child that you’ll return at 4 o’clock tell them that you’ll come back after naptime. This will make things easier to understand for the little ones.)

2. Encourage the child to express their fears

Talking about fears is the first step toward overcoming them. So this is also an important step in helping kids deal with separation anxiety.

You can do this in different ways:

  • Ask the child about their fears and worries. Invite them to talk about the things that scare them about the separation and try to find ways to make things easier for them.
  • Encourage the child to express themselves through drawings. It’s not always easy for young kids to express their fears into words so inviting the child to make a drawing can be a great way to start the discussion.
  • Try role-playing with some stuffed animals to explain to the child how their day will look like when the parents are away. Show them what activities they will do during the day and also let them know what you’ll do while you are away.

separation anxiety in childrenphoto credit: unguryanu /

3. Create a lovely goodbye ritual

If your child is preparing to start preschool I totally recommend you the book “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. The story is great for easing separation anxiety and the book also includes some stickers that are perfect for the separation ritual.

Our ritual included giving my son a big hug, putting the sticker on his hand (or on his tummy), and agreeing on a nice thing to do together after picking him up from school.

This short ritual is great for reassuring him about my love, easing his anxiety, and making sure that we separate on a positive note, with an activity to look forward to for the moment when we will see each other again.

4. Practice separation

If possible, it’s very helpful to take some time to help the child get used to the separation. The best way to do this is by practicing separation.

You can start by leaving the child with a close friend or relative for a short time just to get the chance to practice separation. Another good way of preparing the child for school is organizing play dates for the child to interact with other kids. Or participating in some “mommy and me” classes where the child can get used with following instructions and interacting with other people.

5. Prepare a “separation buddy” or a set of special bracelets

If the school allows, prepare a special stuffed animal to accompany the child to school. The child will feel safer by having a “buddy” with them while you are away and this will ease the anxiety.

If bringing a stuffed animal is not possible, you can create a special bracelet for the child to wear while they are at school. The bracelet will be a reminder of your love and a reassurance that you’ll always come back to pick them up.

I love the idea of having a set of mom and child bracelets and I think they are the perfect gift for the first day of school. You can find some wonderful bracelet set on Etsy – they are really cute!

separation anxiety in childrenphoto credit: unguryanu /

More tips for overcoming separation anxiety at the start of preschool

You can find out more tips that really helped us when my son started preschool here: 7 helpful ways to prepare for the first day of preschool. The article also includes a printable to help the child prepare for the first day.

Another helpful thing to do is reading books about the first day of preschool. You can find here a list of 7 children books that are perfect for helping kids prepare for this change.

I have also found an interesting solution for separation anxiety on the blog Mama on the Now – you can check it out here.

I know that dealing with separation anxiety is not easy for parents. Sometimes it can become very overwhelming when the child’s feelings are very intense and separation brings tears every single time.

But I also know that with a lot of love and patience parents can help kids overcome their separation anxiety. Children need our support to deal with their fears and worries and this support matters a lot!

I hope that these tips will help you when dealing with separation anxiety and that they will make things easier for both you and your kids!

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Separation anxiety in children can easily become overwhelming but these easy tips will make things a lot easier! These ideas are perfect for dealing with the separation anxiety that comes up when kids are starting preschool or are going through other similar changes. --- Separation anxiety in toddlers and preschoolers | How to overcome separation anxiety | Parenting tips for overcoming separation anxiety #RaisingKids #PositiveParenting #ParentingTips #AnxietyInChildren

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