Separation anxiety: How to deal with the dreaded drop-off

If morning drop-offs are leaving you with tear-stained clothes and guilt, try these ideas to help your preschooler, kindergartner or first-grader make an easier transition.

Kate Stewart 0

Photo: Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

Daily draw
If your little scholar likes to have a plan, make a visual timeline for him. Use a notebook to illustrate the school’s daily routine, which you can glean from a meeting with the teacher. The schedule acts as a countdown to pickup time. Start with drop-off, and include events like snack time and recess, all the way to the end of the day.

TIP: Laminating the pages will help on a rainy day.

Hold my hand
Take a page out of the beloved book The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, and leave a kiss on your little one’s palm. Tell her to press her palm to her lips any time she needs a kiss and you will send one back.

TIP: For little kids, try writing “XO” on their palm using tinted lip balm.

Buddy system
Going to a new place can be unsettling to some wee adventurers. Try to calm their nerves by bringing along a blankie or stuffie as a comforting reminder of home. You can leave it with staff for an emergency (depending on the daycare or preschool’s policy), or he can keep it with him.

TIP: Buy a double and leave it at school in case you forget the stuffie at home.

Collateral
While it is completely unfathomable to you, it’s easy for kids to imagine that you’re deserting them. Give little ones something important to hold on to that assures them that you’ll be back; it also helps them feel responsible and trusted.

TIP: Leave your old watch or piece of costume jewellery, and play up its importance.

Eye on the prize
Sometimes you have to resort to old-fashioned bribery to get the job done some kids need a bit of an incentive to stay dry-eyed. Try using a sticker chart, so that they can collect a reward each day. Let them “save up” a week’s or a month’s worth of stickers for a new toy or book.

TIP: Even if bribery doesn’t work, surprising kids with something small for a job well done goes a long way.

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