B2S: Separation Anxiety – Tips for Making Back-to-School Easier

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Leaving home, mommy, and the things that make our children feel safe can be a difficult thing for some children.  The official term is Separation Anxiety and if you are the mother of a child experiencing it, you probably know the language.  It’s heart-breaking to watch our children suffer.  When Rosie cries it’s like thorns piercing my heart,  and I want to do anything I can to bring back her smile.

Rosie has had varying degrees of difficulty every year of school (this is the third).  The first year was horrible – she would hide behind the couch at home and cry, “I don’t want to go to school!”.  Or the hiccuping sob, “But, I misssss you.”  *sigh* It breaks my heart.

Some children happily trot off, waving and smiling at mom.  Others have a bit of sadness, but then they go right in.  Then there’s us….  *sigh*.  We’ve tried everything we could think of, and some things help but nothing has made it go away.

Here are some tips on dealing with Separation Anxiety.  Every child is different.  One thing might work for you that didn’t for someone else’s child.  If you’ve found something that helps that I didn’t mention, please leave me a comment!  Help!

1.  Preparation / Routine

We started practicing two weeks before school started.  Children are reassured by routine.  They feel much better when things are predictable and repeated.  When Rosie’s first day finally did come, she was already accustomed to the routine of it.  If you don’t have the schedule and routine set, it’s just one more shock to your little one, one more change.  It’s best to eliminate as many “new” things as you possibly can.  Make as few changes as you possible can.  The more you can make familiar and comfortable to your child, the better they will adjust to school.

If your child is already back to school, it’s not too late to instill routine.  Have set times for “Get Ready For Bed Time”, “Lights Out”, “Wake Up”, “Start Breakfast” and “Out the Door”.  And don’t even try to just remember it all, write it down in a location where everyone can see and be reminded.

2.  Good Night Sleep and a Healthy Breakfast

Everyone has seen the effect of hunger, low blood sugar, and fatigue on their children.  To try to minimize the meltdown, our routine included a good night’s sleep and time for breakfast.  Do you give your child a choice of breakfast foods?  I’ve tried to “empower” Rosie by giving her a choice – but a choice among the options I present.  She can’t choose cookies, for example, but she can choose between oatmeal and Cheerios.

3.  Getting Ready the Night Before

I am very guilty of waiting until the last minute and then having a pressured chaotic race around the house looking for the things we need to take.  Running back into the house for forgotten items….  You know the scene.  So, I’m forcing myself to prepare the night before.  Choose our clothes.  Put shoes under the backpack hanging on the wall.  Make sure we have clean socks.  Check to see that my keys are in my purse.  I’ve also made a list and taped it to the wall of all the things that need to be ready.

You will be calmer and so will your child if you have everything ready and move along smoothly in the morning!

4.  A Picture or Token That Your Child Can Keep in Their Pocket

I had ordered the “dog tags” from Arts Cow last year and they have been working out perfectly.  They are small enough to fit in Rosie’s little pocket.  I have one of the two of us together.  The “dog tags” came on a bead chain that I cut to a bracelet-length and then pinned it into her pocket with a safety pin.  That way she can take it out, when she needs to console herself but it isn’t disruptive in class or won’t get lost.  I’ve even had one go through the wash cycle and survive!

More to come in the Back to School Series:

Separation Anxiety Part 2

Rosie’s Lunchbox

Giveaways:  School Bags for Kids; Time Timer

Shopping Haul from Marshall’s


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