Preschool Separation: 5 Ways to Deal With It

First Day of Preschool!It’s mid afternoon when I’m jolted out of my nap. It is my neighbour’s two-year-old bringing the building down with his crying. “He must be back from school,” I mutter, closing my eyes again.

It’s been a painful first week of school for Ruhaan. For his parents, it has been traumatising!

While he’s just displaying his natural fears, his parents seem to be taking the separation to heart. They are having a tough time letting go!

Their anguish makes me question if starting playschool is more challenging for children or for parents? Are you suffering the same predicament?

Let’s find a solution in the following five tips:

1) Jitters

Would you be jittery if your child is playing with his/her friends on a play date at someone else’s house? I’m sure not. Then why panic for school? It’s a place you so carefully chose for your little one.

Starting playschool is the same as a play date, except your child will be playing in a school. That’s what children in playschool do, they play!

It’s only the definition of the word ‘separation’ that causes agony in parents. This in turn gets rubbed off on children.

Children are going to school to move ahead in life. It’s just a few hours of fun that they’ll have without you. That doesn’t sound agonising, does it? Remind yourself of this the next time you get nervous around your preschooler.

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2) CryingSay No to Tears!

Is crying such a traumatic thing? Children can express only by crying, even if it’s to display a little discomfort.

When Raghav falls and cries at home, mom Mita takes it easy. Come on, you’re a brave boy,” she says. The issue is over before one can say, “over.”

Copy paste Mita’s attitude to when your child is going to preschool. Make little of it! Because we have made such a hue and cry about first time at school—new school bag, new clothes, new friends, and so on; children feel bewildered. Thus, they cry.

I agree that some children cry really hard and are difficult to placate. But still try and deal with the matter with ease; just as you would in day-to-day bouts of crying.

3) Time talk

“It’s just for an hour Mia,” I heard a mother cajole her daughter at the school gate the other day.  Now, a preschooler doesn’t know time! He/she is oblivious to these details.

If I were 2-year-old Mia who did not understand what an ‘hour’ meant, I would cry myself hoarse.

Jokes apart, children do not understand the concept of a time period. Refrain from such explanations while sending them to school. In fact, they won’t even know that they are separated unless you rub it in.

4) Ease it out

Just tell your child,  “While you go and play with your teacher, mamma/papa will wait outside.” Better still, tell him/her that you’re talking to your friends outside. They will ease up and go.

In case you are still anxious, you can carry a book and wait around school. Perhaps, run your errands in the vicinity. This will ease your anxiety and keep you true to your word as well.

There are many ways of easing yourself and your child in the situation. Being anxious is not one of them.

5) The Waiting ‘Zone’

There’s a so-called ‘waiting mothers’ corner in my son’s preschool for mothers of the first time school-goers. They wait for school to get over. Like I said, if they want to be around to placate their anxiety, it’s justified; at least for the first few days.

A mother of two, Daisy has hired help, an old lady, to wait outside her two-year-old’s playschool. Her younger child hates being ‘alone’ in school. She has been attending school for almost three months now!.

Handholding is justified till the time it’s not harming the child. A school is not a prison. Giving children solace that they are being guarded by a known face during school adds to their fear.

If you are one of those who are in the ‘waiting zone’, ensure that you make your run a short one!

Experts speak!

When I asked my trusted psychiatrist if today’s parents needed therapy for anxiety more than their children, his reply was a prompt “Yes!”

He says that the stressful environment around us impinges on our parenting skills, which in turn our children anxious individuals.

A few years ago he had not even heard of the issue ‘anxiety in children’. Today, he handles almost two cases a month.

Parents are inadvertently passing on their stress to children. Working parents call it work-stress while stay-at-home moms call it the stress of too much housework. Secretly, it is they who are having a hard time with the change.

“In our times, we were just fine in school,” smirks the 45-year-old doctor. And as if he were reading my doubtful mind (which he does quite often) he adds, “So are our children!”

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How did you deal with separation anxiety in your child? Share your experience with us.

Image Credits: Andrew DawesDavid D

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Mother to a five-year-old, Amrita Minocha is essentially a teacher. She teaches GRE/GMAT/IELTS verbal courses, English as a second language (TESOL), and Yoga! An MBA in HR, she enjoys juggling between diverse roles. A hardcore bookworm who aims to pen a book someday, she currently writes GRE verbal samples, activity books for kids, and actively blogs on the Flintobox blog.

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