4 Top Tips to Help our Children Deal with Separation Anxiety
It's no secret that we're living in the most anxiety ridden time in history (thanks smart phones and the internet!!) So it's no wonder our kids have to deal with a bunch of everyday worries too. One of the big ones that's really common among the little ones is separation anxiety. It tends to pop up when there's a new change happening – like starting childcare, kindergarten, or school, or even just being left with a sitter or the grandparents. And don't even get me started on the dentist debut – talk about nerve-wracking!
These experiences can be seriously overwhelming for our little ones. As parents, it's like we're on this quest to figure out how to be the ultimate helper as they tackle these brand-new scenes. So, here's the inside scoop: I've got four top tips in my back pocket, learned from my gig as both a teacher and a mum. Trust me, these tools are like magic spells that work like a charm. 🌟
1. Social Stories- Social Stories are like your secret weapon for explaining those worrying social situations that pop up for our kids. Imagine a cool picture storybook all about your child and their unique situation! The awesome part? You and your little one can team up and create it right at home, packing it with all the important info and advice they need. This tool's all about making them feel safe and in control, giving them the info they need in a super-friendly way, just like a regular storybook session. Want to level up? Add in some photos of their own kinder/school and the adults they will be seeing – it's a total win. Plus, make it a nightly ritual to help them navigate where everything is and how to tackle different situations. Oh, and here's the trick: sprinkle that advice with a bunch of positivity and words that boost their confidence. You got this! 🌟These can be made easily on programs such as word, or you can use apps that have the templates ready to go and are easily customisable. My top pick is the Courageous Kids App.
2. Visual Diary- This is one of my favourite tools and something that has worked so well for us in our home. It's like your child's very own weekly roadmap, complete with pictures or photos of all the cool stuff they'll be up to each day and who they'll be spending their days with. I like to print out real photos to build familiarity. This magical tool does wonders to help them feel totally ready and in the know, so they've got everything under control. Think fridge-worthy or wall-hangable – they can peek at it whenever they want, giving them autonomy and ownership over their days. When life's predictable and they know what to expect, it's like instant happiness – worries? Poof, gone! You can whip this up at home, or if you're into tech, the Courageous Kids App has ready-to-go templates you can print out. How cool is that? 🌈
Image by Easyactivitieskids on Etsy
3. Happy Thoughts Card- I came up with this gem when my kiddo was just 3 and about to dive into kindergarten for the first time. So, imagine a card the size of a credit card – that's the magic. It's a bunch of little pics that are like your child's pocket-sized happiness collection, all laminated and stuck together. And here's the deal: the pics can be anything that floats their happy boat – favourite people, toys, pets, you name it. Oh, and here's the secret sauce – chat with your child and ask them what makes them happy, instead of assuming ourselves! The real bonus? It's so teeny, it can be taken anywhere in their pocket, incognito. So, if they're feeling down or worried, voila – out comes the card, and they're reminded of all the awesome things waiting for them back home. True story – my daughter took her Happy Thoughts Card every single day during kindergarten and prep. Give it a shot! 🌟
4. Hug- The humble hug! Seriously, it might seem simple, but in our crazy busy lives, we often forget to just kick back and snuggle up with our kids. And guess what? There's actual science backing up the goodness of this! When you give a hug, your brain starts producing those awesome feel-good hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. It's like a happiness cocktail! Not only does this help dial down anxiety by slowing your heart rate, but it also cranks up the feelings of safety and security. And here's the kicker – it tightens the bond between the huggers, too. And here's a cool tidbit: the longer the hug, the bigger the positive impact on your body. A 20-second hug? That's like a boost for your immune system! So next time you're in a hugging mood, hold on a bit longer and watch yourself get healthier in the sweetest way. 🤗
Transitioning our little ones into something totally new? Yeah, it can be a wild ride – for them and us, the superhero parents. I mean, in the heat of the moment, it's like an emotional rollercoaster and you wonder if things will ever get smoother. But here's the scoop: I'm not just a primary school teacher; I'm a mum to three kids who've all tackled their own challenges starting kinder or school. And you know what? My golden nugget of advice is simple: shower your child with love and support. Seriously, their brains are processing a gazillion changes, so when they come back home, all they need is a safe, cozy, and supportive haven.
Now, when those tough moments strike and you're dealing with behaviour that's a bit of a puzzle, ask yourself, "What's the real challenge causing this behaviour?" Trust me, understanding that there's a reason behind it all makes a world of difference.
And here's the magic formula: when we react with kindness, love, and empathy, it's like we're sending them a secret code that says, "You're safe with me, no matter what." It's like building this unshakable trust that'll stick around their whole lives. So keep the love flowing, and watch your kiddo flourish! 🌟
I would love to hear your experiences with school transition or what tools and ideas you have tried! Feel free to share them with me by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org