Encouraging Social Success

The Dreaded Drop-Off

Soon enough, your child will start kindergarten—and the reality of spending several hours away from you could bring on separation anxiety. Once he gets comfortable with his teachers and classmates, it should subside—but that may take time. To ease the transition, explore the classroom, playground and other school areas with your child in advance. “If possible, go and have lunch during the spring semester with an older friend or sibling,” suggests Schiller. Introduce your child to the teacher and administrators and make them aware of any fears your child is experiencing. Schiller suggests reading The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn a few days before school starts and again the night before the big day. “On the first day of school, put a kiss on an index card and send it to school with your child,” she says.

Above all, don’t dismiss or become angry about your child’s anxiety. Talk calmly about positive experiences to come—from making friends to learning new things. Tell your child how soon you’ll see each other again and how excited you are to hear about his day at school. “Make sure your child knows how he will be picked up and give a time related to events instead of the clock,” notes Schiller. For instance, say, “I’ll pick you up right after story time.”

Finally, make sure that you’re emotionally prepared; it won’t be easy to walk away if your child is crying, but staying will only make the situation harder. Never let your child stay home because of separation anxiety or sneak away when he isn’t looking. Simply say good-bye and that you’ll see him soon.

NEXT: Safety versus courtesy