SEPARATION ANXIETY

The idea of going back to school and leaving his Mom is making Gulliver feel sick. What if something happened to him? What if something happens to his Mom? Remembering the back to school plan might just get them out the door on time.

Separation Anxiety:

  • Separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood
  • Children struggling with separation anxiety often complain of stomach or head aches that keep them from going to school
  • Establishing coping techniques is important
  • Let your child know it is normal to feel anxious around transition or change
  • Sneaking away when your child doesn’t notice is not an effective exit strategy and might increase their anxiety
  • Send a note or a special toy your child can turn to for extra comfort when you are gone
  • Don’t give in – if it is important for your child to stick to the plan – stick to the plan. Every time you give in you are teaching that avoiding anxiety is an effective way of dealing with it.

What to say to support someone with worries

When children are struggling with worries, they need your patience and understanding. You don’t have to have all the answers, but comforting, encouraging and supporting them are great ways to build resiliance.

Parents

Watch the video below first, then watch the Separation Anxiety video as a family!

 Tips:

  1. Let your child know it’s normal to feel anxious around transition or change.
  2. Prepare your child by letting them know about changes that are coming- what’s it going to look like, what their role and everyone else’s role will be.
  3.  Routines are important- an established routine leading up to a change or transition can often elevate extra stress.
  4. A transition item can make a huge difference to children.  Having something to carry through a door, even your car keys, makes it easier.   For some, it is carrying a favorite Lego character in their pocket. 
  5. Older children get separation anxiety too.  It often comes in the form of headaches and stomach aches at school.  Make your school team part of the plan if this is happening. They will have lots of suggestions and help for you as well.
  6. Be calm and consistent- Keep your promises- do and say what you said you would.
  7. Don’t give in- If it is important that your child stick to the plan Every time you give in, you are teaching them that they cannot manage their own anxiety.
  8. Reward your child’s efforts- these are all great accomplishments for children struggling with separation anxiety.

Activity:

Draw a Plan:  Back to school plan – when parent is working plan – when parent is busy plan.  This is a good way of working out how little ones can ask for help/let you know they are struggling while having you set out guidelines for supporting them and letting you know you are there for them without loosing your patience.