It happens all too often. Parents start to drop off
their young kid in your class and even before they leave the
room, the waterworks start. Tears start flowing, followed by
high-pitched screams of "I want my mommy!" Now instead of focusing
on teaching and loving on the rest of your kids, your attention
must turn to calming down the child dealing with separation
My wife has seen this situation many times. Since college, she
has worked as a nanny and daycare worker. When I told her I wanted
to write about how to deal with kids and separation anxiety, she
shared with me some of her own horror stories.
At times it can feel as if there is nothing you can do, but
there are some steps you can take to help make the drop-off an easy
one. Here are five tips to help you avoid a bad goodbye:
- Quick and Simple:
KidsHealth.org offers some great tips for parents dealing
with their kids' separation anxiety. Two things the site says
parents should avoid are sneaking out when their kids aren't
looking and making too big of a deal out of leaving. A quick,
simple goodbye is best for all.
- Pick Your Play: One of the best ways to
help kids shake the fear of being left by their parents is to
quickly get them active and continue to keep them occupied. Most of
the time, children will stop crying on their own after a short
period. However, if kids are still having trouble warming up to the
situation, give them a choice of what to do. Giving kids some
simple options helps them feel more in control and able to handle
being by themselves.
- Policy of Honesty: Let kids be honest
with you about how they feel. And be honest in return, telling them
when their parents will be back. Instead of saying "Your parents
will be back soon," give kids a timeline such as "After we play,
eat our snack, and clean, it will be about time for your parents to
- Meet and Greet: If you can, meet with
parents and kids outside of the classroom. Allowing the children to
meet you beforehand can help them feel more comfortable when it's
time to say goodbye.
- Keepsakes are Key: If kids keep asking
for their parents throughout the day, don't give in and let them
go. Instead, have them do something special for their parents.
Suggest the children make cards or draw pictures to surprise their
parents when they come back. If the problem persists, have parents
write letters to their kids before class-you can pull these out
midway through your session to remind children that their parents
love them and will be back soon.
Keep in mind that at some point separation anxiety turns into a
disorder. According to WebMD,
"When this fear occurs in a child over age 6 years, is
excessive, and lasts longer than four weeks, the child may have
separation anxiety disorder."
At this point, you may want to consider talking to the parents
about getting help for their child to deal with these fears.
Let us know what you have done to help your kids overcome
separation anxiety. Leave your stories of successes and failures