Manage Separation Anxiety with Rituals

posted 1/5/23 -- The morning goodbyes can sometimes be a challenge for children and parents. These hellos and goodbyes are children’s first steps on a lifelong journey of learning how to separate from and reunite with the important people in their lives.

Learning to say hello and goodbye is a process, not something to be achieved overnight. Rest assured that most children just need a couple minutes to manage their emotions to prepare them to participate in the rest of their school day.

LCCAA Head Start gives special attention to hellos and goodbyes in our program because they are such a major part of your child’s life — now and throughout life. Being able to separate is necessary if children are going to develop as confident and capable individuals. Learning to reunite is equally important.

How teachers and parents can work together to ease this transition

Try to spend some quality time with your child in the morning and at end of the school day. Your presence will help make the transition between home and school easier for your child. Ask questions like: “Tell me about the best part of your day.” “Who did you play with today?” “What did you play?” “What is your favorite area in the classroom to play?” “Why is this your favorite?”

Never leave without saying goodbye to your child. It is tempting to leave quietly if your child is busy and not noticing you. By saying goodbye, you strengthen your child’s trust in you. Your child knows that you will not disappear without warning.

Create hello and goodbye rituals. A goodbye ritual might be as simple as giving your child a giant hug before you leave. A hello ritual at pickup might be to bend down to your child’s eye level, smile, open your arms wide, and softly call his name. Having rituals offers both of you the comfort of knowing what to do.

Every day is different. Be aware that, on some days, goodbyes and hellos will be harder than on other days. Your child’s stage of development and other factors, such as being hungry, tired, sick, or upset by a change in your schedule, can make saying goodbye and hello difficult.

Bring familiar items from home. Teachers welcome family photos and other reminders of home (Ex. favorite blanket or stuffed animal for nap time) that we may keep where your child can reach them. Seeing these special objects will help your child feel connected to you throughout their day.

By working together, we can help your child feel comfortable, secure and confident at school. LCCAA Head Start has put together backpacks that can be checked out by parents to help on topics like separation anxiety, divorce, loss of a loved one or pet, new baby, etc. Please talk with your classroom teacher or family service assistant if interested in checking one out.