#FridayFAQs -Separation Anxiety | Calming a Preschooler who cries at goodbyes

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Question: My daughter who is in preschool breaks into uncontrollable sobs, each time I drop her off to school. Please can you advise me on what can I do to make this stop?

Answer : It is of normal occurrence if your preschooler on being dropped off to school bawls out his/her lungs, waves to you goodbye with a trembling lower lip or gives you the deadpan stare. Change is inevitable, but it isn’t always welcome and attending school is something that your little one has to get accustomed to. Like adults are unnerved on the first day at work, children undergo the same thing and this is their way of expressing it. Guilt may weigh down your conscience like deadweight, but nudge it aside. Here are a few, time-tested do’s and don’ts that will help your toddler merrily waving at you as he/she is dropped off at preschool.

Detailed run through

Talking helps, yes! Even with your preschooler, just running him/her through the events of the day has a surprisingly calming effect. It helps their mind shift into a prepared state by stating things like “We are on the way to school”, “You’re soon going to be meeting your friends” or “Munchkin! I’ll drop you off at your preschool, kiss you goodbye and leave, hoping for you to play with your friends.” This technique has been recommended by Joanne Baxter, a Psychologist and Associate Professor in Child Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Stow trinkets and toys in the duffel bag

Children being the innocent beings they are break into a smile at the simplest of things. Give your child the much needed comfort by putting that rattling toy or furry teddy bear that he/she dreads being departed from. A small thing could go a long way in drying you little one’s tears, uplifting the mood and giving a sense of familiarity.

Bribes will not work in the long run

This one is to orient you on a practice that will not work in your favor. To shush your child’s wails in a state of panic, you promised your child an extravagant treat. It worked like magic, and the streaming flow of tears ceased. Smiling in satisfaction, you completed the school drop off duty with ease. The following day, you were again greeted with those wails, would you again make the offer of a treat? Then the practice would make a permanent fixture in your child’s life and would in turn result in your child having unrealistic expectations.

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Get that routine in place

A well- rested child is a happy child, so ensure your that child has a good night’s sleep. It does play a part in your child being less cranky at drop-off. Children find comfort in predictability, so get that time-table in place and follow it like clockwork. Ensure that you do the drop-off duty at the same time every day, perhaps during rhyme time or during the art and craft time seeing a different setup might also get him/her restless and upset.

Reproaching is a definite No-No

You may fail to realize it the manner in which you converse with your child is insensitive. If your parting words are something like this “You better not cry today.” It might just result in the weepy spell prolonging. A child has to be treated with patience and empathy you have to understand this is a change for your tiny-tot and find a suitable way to help him/her deal with it.

Formulate a goodbye ritual

The more upbeat and cheerful you are, the happier your child will be at drop-off. Lingering around and informing the caregiver to keep a watch will only make your child more anxious than ever. Make a fun morning routine, put in a couple of practices like doing a happy dance before sitting in the car, counting the steps from the parkway to the class or let the goodbye wave be accompanied with a high five. Practices like these make for your child look forward to be dropped off and it will also give you another memory to cherish.

On a parting note, just remember this is a phase you and your tiny tot will sail through this. Don’t harbor any guilt on turning away at the school doorway; those tears will eventually turn into smiles. Lap up the attention till it lasts, one day your child will fly out of the bird’s nest. Give these suggestions a shot and enjoy the joys of parenting.

Happy Parenting!

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