Separation Anxiety

Considering that we are still in the first half of the year, I thought we would start by talking about settling your child into preschool and how the first few weeks of preschool can sometimes be a difficult period.  It’s difficult for the Preschooler, the family (especially the one dropping off) and us, as the educators at Preschool. We all feel terrible when a child is upset about coming to Preschool or when they get upset on arrival.  However separation anxiety is a natural process for any child.

It is normal for children to sometimes feel anxious or insecure when separated from their parents or other important caregivers. Usually, such separation anxiety fades as they grow up and become more confident.

Once we have come to terms with the fact that separation anxiety is a normal part of early childhood development, next we need a plan to cope with it.  Communication between families and educators is an important part of an action plan.  Our educators have a vast amount of experience in helping children to settle in the preschool setting, please talk to us about your concerns and we will work together to think of some strategies that work for you and your child.  Helpful strategies include:

  • A transitional object – teddy, favourite book or a special blanket
  • Displaying a photo of your family in the sign-in area
  • Talking about Preschool in a positive way at home, raising it as a point of discussion frequently throughout the week
  • Reward system to reinforce ‘tear-free starts’
  • Creating a visual schedule
  • Sharing a social story about ‘happy arrivals’
  • Building relationships with educators

An important part of addressing separation anxiety is about building resilience in your child – encourage your child to believe that they are safe at Preschool and that educators are there to help.  Building resilience also relies on the child having a belief in self & his/her own ability to cope. 

In attachment theory, we talk about the fact that we all need someone bigger, stronger, wiser and kind to help us through a difficult time.  We are here for you and your child to be that someone!

Early Childhood Australia has a very helpful article on separation anxiety, with links to factsheets & other sites. Check it out:

We would love to hear stories of how your child is settling into preschool and any tips/ideas you found useful in supporting your child.