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School Daze: Helping Preschoolers With Separation Challenges

Gearing up for preschool can be an exciting time for parents and toddlers. There are pint-sized backpacks to pick out, new friends to meet, and once they’re safely in preschool, coffee that you can finish in one sitting without needing to microwave it for the 100th time!

But even with all that excitement, starting preschool can be tough for toddlers who struggle with separation challenges. Whether this is the first time your child’s been out of your care or if they have been in childcare since birth, it’s normal for young children to feel anxious during the first couple weeks of preschool as they adjust to being away from their parent.

The good news is there are a number of strategies you can try to help take the edge off of this big transition.

First Day Jitters

A huddle of sad children hugging their parents is a pretty common sight at preschool drop off. Saying goodbye to your darling little one while they are begging you not to leave can pull hard on your heartstrings. A child with separation challenges will:

  • Cling, cry, and protest when their parents try to leave.
  • Appear terrified or worried.
  • Bargain, plead, ask for five more minutes with you or one more hug.
  • Some preschoolers will cry from joy (or relief) when their parents return.

Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for babies and toddlers and preschoolers. From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes perfect sense that a young child would want to stay close to his or her primary caregiver: they provide love and comfort, food, shelter, and everything in between. The goal is to teach your child that their new teacher can provide those things in your absence.

For the full article and more Triple P tips for helping minimize separation anxiety, visit lanekids.org

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis, and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). 

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