Although many children settle in relatively quickly, the start of school can cause some children to regress into some separation anxiety. This can result in tears and clinging as you try to leave at school. Separation anxiety is a child’s normal fear of being away from their parents or carers. This can start at around 8 months, usually peaking at around 14-18 months and gradually diminishing throughout early childhood. If you feel that your child might feel anxiety at being separated there are tips to help overcome this for the day.
- Make sure your child knows that you will be back, waiting outside when they finish (or whoever is picking them up).
- Say goodbye and leave when it is time to go. Lingering can make it more difficult for your child to part with you and get on with their day.
- Early childhood teachers are expert at looking after children when they begin. So don’t stress too much if you are leaving them with a nervous or upset child.
- Most children don’t worry or cry for as long as you imagine. They often stop when you leave and are fine.
- Know that if there is a problem the school will contact you.
When separation anxiety is a problem
Some children experience separation anxiety that doesn’t go away, even with your best efforts. If intense separation anxiety continues for months rather than days, it may be a sign that more support is needed.
If separation anxiety continues and is excessive enough to interfere with normal activities like school and friendships, it may be a sign of a larger problem: separation anxiety disorder.
If you’re worried about your child’s separation anxiety speak to your child’s teacher at preschool or school and work through the situation together.