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Embarking on the journey of preschool is a significant milestone for both parents and children alike and a cause for celebration! While it’s an exciting time filled with new friends, activities, and learning opportunities, it can also bring to the fore separation anxiety. As parents, seeing your child struggling during this transition can be heart-wrenching. With patience, understanding, and a few tried-and-true strategies, you can help ease your little one into this new chapter.

Start with a Positive Build Up!

Building anticipation and excitement about preschool can significantly impact how your child approaches the first day. Start talking about all the fun adventures they will have, new friends they’ll meet, and the fascinating things they’ll learn. Drive past the school together before the first day if possible, so your child can become familiar with where it is in relation to home and you. Positive associations will help reduce anxiety, making the idea of preschool seem more like an exciting adventure than a separation.

Establish a Consistent Routine

Children thrive on routine and predictability. Before school begins, establish a consistent morning routine that you can follow each day. This might include waking up at the same time, having a good breakfast, and engaging in a fun but calm activity before heading to school. Consistency provides security and alleviates anxiety by creating a familiar structure around the start of the day that they can rely on.

Practice Short Separations

In the weeks leading up to the first day of preschool, gradually introduce short periods of separation. Leave your child with a trusted friend or grandparent for increasing amounts of time. This helps your child become accustomed to the idea that separation is temporary and that you will always return. Praise and positive reinforcement during these practice sessions will boost your child’s confidence and sense of security.

separation anxiety

Create a Transitional Object

A familiar object from home, such as a favourite toy or a blankie, can create a bridge between home and school. These objects comfort and reassure your child in your absence. Bring this special item to school, and let them know it will stay with them throughout the day.

Establish a Goodbye Routine

Create a consistent and loving goodbye routine when dropping your child off at preschool. Keep it brief but meaningful, reinforcing your commitment to returning. A hug, a kiss, and a cheerful “goodbye” can become a reassuring ritual that signals to your child that separation is a normal part of the day and that you will be back to pick them up. Don’t linger, even if they cry. Your child’s teachers and carers are well trained and versed in dealing with start of year blues and will be able to comfort and engage your little one successfully!

Celebrate Small Victories

As your child adapts to preschool, celebrate the small victories. Whether it’s making a new friend, completing a craft, or sharing a story during circle time, acknowledge and praise your child’s achievements. This reinforces the idea that preschool is a safe and enjoyable place, building your child’s confidence and lessening separation anxiety over time.

The first day of preschool is a huge step in your child’s educational journey! While separation anxiety is a common and natural reaction, using the above strategies can really help ease the transition for both of you.

Remember, with time and patience, your child will overcome their anxiety, embracing the exciting world of preschool with enthusiasm and curiosity!