Preparing for Separation Anxiety

September is a very busy time of year especially for educators and providers as they prepare to receive many children. Some will be returning but many will be new. This means many children along with their parents/guardians will experience Separation Anxiety. Here are some considerations to help with this short lived anxiety.

Create a small booklet with pictures of your centre or home child care setting that you can give to parents/guardians so they can read it with their children.
Post and use a visual schedule not only in each classroom or playroom in a provider’s home but also next to the schedule posted for parents/guardians.

Assure parents/guardians that you won’t let their child cry all day and that you will call them to let them know how things are going. You may have a long list of parents/guardians to call but remember this is short lived. It’s important to plan for that time. By calling parents/guardians you are establishing the foundation of a good relationship.

Encourage parents/guardians to pick up earlier the first week and then gradually increase the length by the second week. Remind parents/guardians that when they pick up early it is not to stay and play. It is important for them to leave with their child so that the child begins to understand that, “when mommy or daddy comes, I go home.”

Build trust with the child by staying close to them. Use empathetic statements such as “you are feeling sad,” or “you are angry”, “it’s ok to feel this way. You will feel ok soon.” Don’t worry if a child does not want to be picked up and held, not all children like to be comforted that way. Find out how the child likes to be comforted.

Prepare your environment so that it is inviting to play. Set puzzles on the table, start a block structure on the carpet and have lots of sensory materials available. This way the child can scan the room and gravitate towards something that interests them. For more information on Separation Anxiety please click here.

Pina Giovannitti, Resource Consultant
Children’s Integration Support Services