In most parts of the world, schools are opening up after a long hiatus due to COVID. Toddlers and young children may feel nervous going back to the old routine of attending school. They may experience separation anxiety. Sometimes parents may feel uncertain, agitated, or even nervous. Read further to find out how to bring in a daily rhythm at home and ease the anxiousness to bring a smooth transition.
Does your baby, toddler, or child cling to you when you leave them alone? Does your child feel uncomfortable and cry while leaving them at school? Do you feel uncomfortable with the new changes around you and the child? Well, this is a sign of separation Anxiety – fear of strangers. Fret not! This anxious feeling is a normal part of a child’s developmental process, and the good news is that they grow out of it as they become older. However, there are some tips and routines that one can follow as a parent to ease Separation Anxiety.
I have a young daughter. Believe me when I say that I have tried a dozen different things to ease the feeling of anxiety in her. Some have worked for me, and some were a failure. Here are a few tips and routines that have worked quite well for me these past couple of years.
Never show your nervousness or anxiety
I know that feeling when you enroll your child in a daycare/ preschool. The first few weeks can be difficult for the parent as well. It is often as hard on the parent as it is for the child. Believe me when I say that most parents suffer from separation anxiety as well. I vividly remember when I sent my daughter to school the first day. I wanted to wait in the car park for a few hours, just to be sure that everything was okay (even after she entered her class).
Believe me, this attitude is not going to help the child in any way. Children are excellent judges. They not only judge the mood of a parent in an instant but also act upon it subconsciously. To make the transition easy for your child, you ought to feel rested and trust the school/daycare center. Never express your anxiety verbally in front of your child/ toddler. Always be positive. If that is too hard for you then, don’t talk about it.
A soothing bedtime routine
When a child returns from school, parents are busy with the house chores and rarely spend enough time with their child meaningfully. As parents, we need to find some time to spend with the child. A relaxing and soothing bedtime routine helps the child feel rested at the end of the day. The parent can re-establish the connection with the child through bedtime stories or specific rituals.
What worked for me the best was a simple prayer of gratitude followed by a massage. My daughter and I would start to thank all the lovely things that happened that day. I then take a few drops of coconut oil and rub them on my daughter’s feet and palms. I tell her how well her hands had helped her that day. It may be to paint a lovely picture or to play. We thank her hands for it. Similarly, we thank her legs for helping her run/play with her friends. This bedtime routine relaxes the child, strengthens the bond, and also eases the child to sleep.
Prepare in advance (keep up your promise)
It is always better to tell your child about the daycare center/preschool in advance. Let them know the time when you will return to pick them up. For example: “I will come and pick you up after your lunchtime” or “I’ll be back at 2:00 pm”. In case a different family member is picking the child, then the child needs to know that as well – “Your Grandfather will pick you up at 3:00 pm”. You must explain to the child in their style, and the most important thing is to always stick to the timing.
Have an exclusive Goodbye Ritual
Children feel secure when there is a routine in everything. Having a goodbye routine will not only decrease the heartaches but also let the child build independence. Try to have a custom – do the same thing every day, and it would help if you follow the same timing as well. Most important is that you keep your routine brief. The longer the routine, the longer the transition time for the child. The goodbye routines can be as simple as a few hand movements or kisses.
Before leaving home, my daughter and I have an extra-special handshake routine then, I plant a kiss on her cheeks.
I had written and narrated to her a healing story for separation anxiety. It is a beautiful story about a peacock family. I made sure I had told her the story a couple of times before the academic year had commenced. As a token of our bond, I had also presented her with a unique peacock feather. She carried this precious feather to school, which served as a reminder of my love and the special bond we shared.
For reading the healing story that I had narrated to her, click here A FEATHER FOR PROTECTION AND A DANCE FOR JOY