Separation anxiety is common in young children as they prepare to leave their parents to embark on their educational journey. Some children suffer more than others and can develop a disorder, so it is vital to understand the signs so you can help to deal with their fears. A child will show their nervousness by being withdrawn and will not co-operate. Usually they will complain about feeling sick so they can go home. They also struggle with joining in activities and tend to sit looking bored.
This is a part of a child’s development, so it’s nothing to really get too concerned about it, but it does need some nurturing. It also comes with the territory of when a child starts to be mobile, as they fear getting lost or loosing their parents. It is completely normal for a child to have anxieties about being with strangers and only want to be with their parents. The earlier they are introduced to their new environment the better.
My soon to be two year old god daughter is now in nursery and the difference in her is truly amazing. She is so inquisitive, and independent in such a short space of time. Being with her friends and in the fun environment has opened up her little personality and given her confidence. I never thought she would want to leave her mother’s side as they are so close but we have all been surprised. Separation anxiety normally begins to suppress before four weeks, so this is a good time span to nurture and conquer their fears. The main points to deal with this are:
- Let children bring something from home
- Always seat them with children they may know from the neighbourhood
- Introduce them to an enjoyable activity as they arrive
- Parents need to show a relaxed, happy look on their face
- Also say goodbye to your children briefly
- Read stories that are relevant, so their fear seems normal
- Compliment children as they do something good
- Encourage them when they like doing something
- Keep a close eye on who enjoys what
Staff in centres for early learners must have a patient personality and be able to recognise when a child is distressed at leaving their parents. We want our young children to enjoy their school life and develop their personalities. Obviously if their anxieties don’t improve then professional help will be needed. There could also be underlying issues that you are not trained to deal with. Recognition is key to happy kids and school life.