Coping with Separation

Separating can be an emotional time for both you and your child. You will both experience many different emotions, and your child will often be caught between his or her need to be close to you and growing independence.  Here are some strategies that may help make the process go more smoothly. 

  1. Make yourself available for your child's teacher to come and visit in your home.  Your child will be able to see that Mommy and Daddy know the teacher and trust her.  Watching the teacher interacting with you (on the child's own turf) will help your child begin to feel safe around this new adult in his/her life. 
  2. Do something special together the night before. Pick out what he/she would like to wear the next day, and your child might like to help you select what you are going to wear too.
  3. Try to have a special morning ritual.  Eat breakfast together.  Read a book together after breakfast. Even sitting down to a quick breakfast can help get the day off to a good start.
  4. Decide on a special "friend" or object to bring to school.  A favorite stuffed animal, book or picture can be comforting.
  5. On the way to school discuss what each of you will be doing that day.  After your child has adjusted to school and knows you will be leaving, take time to talk about what you will be doing after you leave the school.  You might ask, "What do you think you'll do first today - play at the water table or build with blocks?"
  6. Let your child see that you and her teacher are building a relationship.  Greet your child's teacher warmly; bring your child into the classroom and leave.
  7. Take time to say goodbye.  It may be tempting to leave while your child is involved in an activity and might not notice, but this doesn't promote trust in the long run. Clear goodbyes build trust.  Overtime, goodbyes can strengthen children's beliefs that you will come back. Be sure to leave your child with an image of you returning to be together.