When a child reach certain age, she need to go to school. Very often, she will cry and said “Mommy, don’t go!”. But, mommy didn’t dare to turn around and walk straight out of the gate and left.
Separation-anxiety when going to school is a journey that every child must go through. Mommy must be stronger and tougher than the child. To help the child, Mommy must find the correct way of communication and method. Very soon, the child will get through this ordeal.
How to handle separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety happened because of FEAR. The child is afraid that if they are separated from their parents, something bad will happened. For adults, we just want to settle the problem but we neglect the feelings of the child. The child might be thinking “Why mommy don’t want me anymore? Where mommy wants to go?”
1. Avoid quick getaway
The best thing to do is to avoid a quick getaway when she’s screaming for you to stay. Rushing off will make matters worse by sending your child’s stress chemicals and stress hormones sky-high.
2. Be calm
In a split second, a child is unable to use language to express their feeling of worries, nervous, and insecure. Very often, they will cry and scream. At this point, if the parents rushing to settle the situation by saying “Why like this ?” or “Cannot cry”, it will only makes the child feel more insecure.
3. Avoid negative words
If we use negative words to persuade them, they will become more afraid.
- Don’t cry.
- Shame on you. Everyone is looking at you now. (the child will feel shy and dislike school)
- If don’t stop crying, I won’t pick you up. (the child will become more insecure)
- If you cry more, I will get teacher to carry you inside. (the child will dislike the teacher and school more)
- Yesterday you already promise that you won’t cry. (the child will feel that you labelled them as misbehave and not honest)
Let the child know that teacher is a friend. When you send the child to school, you must first interact with the teacher. Let the child observe that teacher is a friend of mommy. Then, she will have the trust on the teacher. Please don’t let the child feel that the teacher is come to snatch me. When the child feel secure, she easily to get know the new environment and new teacher. It’s very important that the parents personally hand-over the child to the teacher. If you slip away quietly or the child is take away by force, it will make the child extremely don’t have trust.
Tell the child that mommy will definitely come back to fetch you. When you send the child to school, may tell her “dear, mommy will fetch you at 1pm.” If the child is not time conscious yet, you may tell her “dear, mommy will come to fetch you after you finished (certain activities).” Once there is a clear target, the child will not feel that the waiting is endless. She knows that mommy will come back and when she will come back.
Many children cry when going to school because there is nothing there that capture their attention. For few days, teacher and parents can monitor together whether if the child particularly like a toy, friend, or teacher. Make an arrangement with a warm and kind teacher whom she knows and whom she likes to pick her up and use distractions to activate her. For example, showing her a butterfly. At home, parents can tell the child that “come, we will go find (friend/ teacher/toy name) and play. It is better to tell them to go play than go school. This method can shift their focus and reduce their separation-anxiety.
A few days before school, can show photos of the school to the child. “Wow, mommy find that your school’s snack is very delicious”. or “Wow, mommy find that your school’s toy is very interesting”. Let the child get know the new environment in a secure place and calm state. Of course, you can use story-telling or reading to introduce that school is a fun and interesting place.
8. Dummy Mommy
If your child is repeated distressed when you leave, give her something to remind her of you, such as a scarf that smells of you, or record a loving message so that she can play your voice whenever she chooses.