At the beginning of the year, we have many new children about to start at TG’s Child Care – being left in care with new friends and teachers can be difficult for some children. Shyness around new people and anxiety about separation from parents is common in young children.
All children have to learn to cope with temporary separations from their parents. Learning to be apart can be difficult for both children and parents. However, parents need time for themselves occasionally and children benefit from spending time with other people.
What is Separation Anxiety?
When being left with care-givers, some children cling, cry and protest, when their parents try to leave. They may appear terrified at the thought of their parents leaving. Young children may also burst into tears when their parents return. Parents can feel guilty or worried about leaving their child with other caregivers.
Why do children have difficulty separating from their parents?
Young children may have fears about letting their parents out of their sight. They may worry that their parents are not coming back, or be concerned for their parent’s safety. These types of fears are more common at times of stress or change, such as moving house, family illness or relationship problems.
Giving in and never going out alone because of children’s reactions to being left with others, encourages and rewards clingy behaviour. Rather than easing children’s anxiety, this can actually make things worse. Children need opportunities to learn how to separate from their parents.
Problems can be made worse by the way the separation takes place. Giving children a lot of attention, comfort and reassurance when they protest, may accidentally reward problem behaviour and lead to even more protesting in the future. On the other hand, rushing in to drop children off and then rushing out, may also increase children’s anxiety.
HOW TO SET UP FOR SUCCESS.
Prepare your child ahead of time.
Before starting in care, talk about it with your child. We encourage you to visit the centre together so your child feels comfortable there. Stay close by and allow your child to watch and meet other children and their educators. Avoid forcing your child to join in activities, unless they are genuinely showing interest and are wanting to participate. If possible, visit more than once and stay a little longer each time.
Explain to your child what to expect.
Prepare your child for the separation by explaining where they are going and when you will return. Try to link the time of your return with something the child will understand – “Sarah, I will be back after you have had lunch”, or “I will be back after rest time”.
ALWAYS make sure that you say “Goodbye” before you leave, and reassure them again about when you will be back. Even if the child appears settled and you don’t want to “unsettle” them. When parents simply ‘disappear’, this creates further problems for your child as they will become more anxious about when you may simply vanish from their world without warning.
Always let the educators know when you are planning to leave, so they can assist with the separation, comfort the child if needed, and provide a distraction or interest to assist with settling your child.
Be confident, smile and leave promptly – your child may choose to wave goodbye to you from the front window – this is often a lovely part of the separation process that our carers support and encourage if appropriate.
Even if your child is upset when you leave, please be reassured that all of our educators are experienced and well trained in settling children, supporting their needs, comforting them, and providing them with the highest level of care and education. Feel free to call anytime to check on your child and to reassure yourself that they are settling in.