- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
A preschool is a place and period for children to grow and learn new abilities and skills as they advance in age. However, it can be difficult for children especially while adjusting to many children and parents being affected by separation anxiety. Many parents are heartbroken and frustrated when they leave their children crying and yelling at the entrance of the classroom. However, here are a few tips to make the transition easy for both of you.
Prepare yourself and your child
Joshua Sparrow, a Doctor who is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and co-author of a book; Touchpoints 3 to 6 says parents can prepare by several exercises. First, he recommends that parents reassure their children that they are there for them even if not physically.
“For instance play a game where a ball disappears from sight but your child rediscovers it. Roll a ball under the couch and say, "Look, we can't see it. Do you think it's still there? Let's go look." When your child finds the ball, you can say, "See, even though we couldn't see the ball it's still there, just like Mommy when she went to work." What you're doing is reinforcing "object permanence," a concept that comes earlier (by the end of the first year) but can be threatened by the emotional challenge that separation presents,” he says.
Prepare yourself too by dropping your child at school or at a friend’s house to play and leave. This will help you get used to being apart and kids can adjust in a classroom by meeting other kids in school and the teacher.
Create a consistent routine
Children are good at following routines. A routine helps kids know what to expect and what they need to do. Create a routine that involves a morning ritual of breakfast, packing lunch, showering, departing for school and saying goodbye to each other. This will help kids get used to the preschool transition.
Support your child in the transition
During departure or separation stick around a little longer to ease the anxiety of the child and make them feel comfortable. Ease them in slowly until they adjust. This is different for every child to learn how your child handles this experience. Assure your child they will have a wonderful time in school, hug them and leave promptly. Your child when getting used to this, do not stick around after the goodbye even when your child cries. It only makes it worse for the two of you.
Don’t sneak out
Sneaking without a proper goodbye will make your child feel abandoned and tricked. As much as you want to avoid a meltdown or a tearful goodbye leave your child feeling loved and cared for.
Dr. Sparrow recommends that parents leave their kids a transition object. It could be a favourite blanket or toy that the child loves. Make sure the school is ok with this and that it is safe.
Involve the teacher
The teacher can offer extra support for a child that is struggling to transition. They actually have a lot of effective strategies to help kids adjust. It is good to have a discussion with the teacher on the best approach and how the two of you can help your child.