Back to School: 5 tips for easing separation anxiety

No one I talk to is quite sure where it went, but summer seems to have sprinted on by, and heading into August means that we’re in the throes of back to school madness. As we prepare for this new school year we hope and we pray that our kiddos will transition with smiles and excitement, not tears and fears. Fingers are crossed that our sweet babies will not be the ones clinging to mom or dad as the first bell rings…

We might hope for roses and sunshine and not black clouds and thunder, but let’s be real: for some of us the back to school drop-off is going to be a challenge. Hopefully a challenge that works itself out sooner rather than later, but sometimes…Well, let’s just say that anxiety can linger. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but after struggling through a difficult, separation anxiety-riddled first grade school year, I’ve gained a few tips and tricks to pass along.

5 tips to ease back to school separation anxiety:

  1. If your school offers an open house to meet the teacher, drop off supplies, see the classroom…Go! Go and introduce your kiddo to his new teacher, meet some classmates, see the classroom and where they’ll need to line up before the big day.
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words – Being away from mom and dad (or brother and sister) can be tough for these young ones, so pack a picture for your little one to keep in her desk. Might I recommend doing a collage 4x6 so you can include a variety of favorite photos? A locket is also something special to consider.
  3. Lunch Date/Classroom Volunteer - If your work/life schedule allows, plan the occasional lunch at school. The random parent on the playground is practically elevated to rock star status. No kidding. And if you can’t squeeze in a lunchtime visit, don’t forget the power of the note (or picture) in the lunchbox or being available to volunteer in the classroom from time to time.
  4. Be brave and communicate – There were times last year when the words, “soul crushing” were uttered by me. It was devastating seeing my girl struggle like that, but I couldn’t let her see me cry about this (I just saved that for her teacher…Yeah, that happened). Which brings us to: Communicate. Let the teacher know what’s going on, get everyone on the same page and work to develop a plan together.
  5. Switch up the drop-off. This could either be switching up who’s involved in the drop-off (for one friend having a neighbor take her daughter to school stopped the daily tears). Or inviting your kiddo to help you come up with a fun goodbye routine for the morning drop-off. Whether it be fist bumps or high fives, it’s got to be better than tears!

Finally, no back-to-school list for me would be complete without mentioning that beautiful children’s book gem: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It’s a must-read for young families, and maybe it could become a part of your new goodbye routine.

Just remember, you know your kid best, play to his strengths and keep it consistent. Here’s wishing you and yours an outstanding new school year; may it be tear and anxiety free!