1.Wake up wonderful
Enjoy a 5 minute cuddle as soon as you wake in the morning or take 5 minutes out to chat in bed before the morning rush. This little bit of connection will go a long way when it comes to leaving.
2.Laugh, laugh, laugh
Get laughing in a morning, make sure that you can laugh your way through some of the morning routine. If you can’t manage to get some giggles in before you leave for the school run, get those giggles flowing on your walk or drive to school. Try to avoid talking too much about leaving them at school as this will build up the anxiety but get those bellies laughing about anything you can.
3. Get into role
At the weekend, during the holidays – set up some role play or small world play. Set up a classroom, you are the child, they the teacher or invite your child to play ‘your favourite game – school’ . Just play out those anxieties. As the child act being sad when your mummy leaves, act being happy, act out playing with your friends and falling over – any scenario that feels natural but make sure you show that it’s okay to be sad and everyone feels sad every now and again
4. Have a connection object
Set up a ritual, talk to your child about it and decide what will happen with them. Take a ‘lovie’ something that reminds them of home, something that they can cuddle if they are feeling lonely or missing you. You could each have a key ring (the same one) that you kiss each mornig when you are together, telling your child that when they miss you or you them that you will look at the keyring and it will make you feel close to them again. You may even want to draw a little heart on their hand and the same on your hand so that they can look at it or even kiss it if they miss you during your time apart – you will find that over time this will be needed less and less until they don’t need that connection with your through the day
5. Be early
Be a few minute early for pick-up so you are there as soon as they come out from school, this will lessen the anxiety and you can always remind them that you will be there to give them a big cuddle as soon as school is finished.
6. A special role
Speak to the teacher and ask if there is a special job that your child can do each morning that they go in, whether this is helping with some paperwork or getting the teacher a pen that they will need, whatever it is it will foster the relationship between your child and the teacher more and transfer the attachment from you to them temporily. They will also be distracted and know what they are doing each morning meaning that it’s a familiar rythm for them – always comforting.
7. Fun, fun, fun
Games such as hide and seek which reaffirm over and over to your child that you are gone but you will return soon are good to play. Try adapting hide and seek so that when it’s your turn to hide, come back straight away and say ‘I miss you too much, don’t ever make me leave again’ and then change it up to ‘ok, let me try again, I will be brave because I know you are coming back soon’. It gets them giggling and reaffirms that everyone feels scared sometimes but that it’s okay!
Make sure they are well rested, usually if you are having to wake your child in the morning it’s a sign they aren’t getting enough sleep and therefore will be less likely to deal with their emotions – things always seem worse when you are tired, right?
Ask them if there is someone they really like to play with or even speak to their teacher. Set up playdates away from school, in the holidays and at the weekend to help them to form a really lovely friendship, one they feel secure in. A familiar face when they go in in the morning can be really helpful to calm them
10. Positive and compassionate
Not everyone loved school but try to tell stories of wonderful times you remember or wonderful things that you have noticed that the school does. Remember when you are talking to other people around your child they can hear you so try not to be too negative in ear shot. Also remember it’s hard for your child, try to stay compassionate. Even if they did go into pre-school or nursery everyday for the past 3 years without a murmour, keep in mind that school is completely different, they are seen as ‘big’ now and although most of the time they want to be ‘big’ there is still a little boy or girl in there who will always need their mummy or daddy!
We hope that helps ease some of your child’s worries around school, it takes different children, different amounts of time to settle into school and even those who seem fine will still have blips every now and again. Keep in mind that if this is a regular occurance that doesn’t seem to be getting better there may be an underlying issue, keep a look out for bullying, problems with work, issues with seeing the board clearly etc.