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Handling Separation Anxiety: A Case Study

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 27 Oct 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Handling Separation Anxiety: A Case Study

Leaving your child for the first time at nursery or school or with a childminder can be very traumatic for both of you. It takes time to prepare yourself for this new stage of your child’s development, and it’s not always easy.

There’s a First Time For Everything

Teachers, nursery school staff and childminders are all trained and qualified professionals who are used to the problems and worries associated with parents leaving their children for the first time. However, having to walk away from a child who is clearly unhappy at being left can be very difficult to deal with.

Separation Anxiety

Emelia is the manager of a local pre school and has witnessed many cases of children who really struggle with separation anxiety and parents who really despair at the changes in their child’s behaviour.

Changes in Behaviour

She said: “Many of the parents whose children have problems with being left are almost their own worst enemies because they have resisted the opportunities to leave their children until now, and then wonder why on earth they are reacting the way they do.”Listen to other parents

Katharine left her daughter aged three at Emilia’s pre school, and although her daughter was a little apprehensive about her new environment, she settled very well.

Katharine said: “I have always worked and all of my children are used to being left and to being away from me. We have either had nannies or au pairs at home and the children have all gone to nursery as well. I think that getting your children used to being with different people from an early age is good for all of you. That way, school is less of a wrench.”

Reluctant to be Left

Karen, on the other hand, saw a huge change in her child’s behaviour when he started at nursery and found it very difficult to deal with. She said: “Charlie just didn’t want to leave me. We had spent virtually every day together since he was born, and I really didn’t think about the consequences. All the other children seemed to be so settled and calm and happy and Charlie was a nightmare.”

Excellent Staff Really Helped

“His behaviour really changed-almost overnight-and when he knew he was going to nursery he was so difficult that I really felt like giving up a lot of the time. The staff at the nursery were fantastic and always rang me to let me know that Charlie was OK, which I was very grateful for.”

Introduce Change Gradually

Eventually Charlie settled in to nursery and was fine. Emilia added: “It’s very normal for children to have anxiety about being left and Charlie is no different to lots of other children. Parents can be assured that we are very used to dealing with behaviour like this, but that they can make life easier for themselves by introducing these changes gradually. Most nurseries let parents and children have several visits before they actually stay on their own, and this is a great way for everyone to get used to the new arrangements.”

Stay Calm

“Parents will see a change in their child’s behaviour at home as well when they start school or nursery and the best thing to do is accept that they may behave differently and try not to get too stressed about it. If you make too much of a big deal it just reminds the child that they are going to have to do something that they don’t want to do and that will draw their attention to it.”

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Sherwood - Your Question:
As I read and reflected on this I agreed with all the thoughts shared by Emelia. I would add a few items that have helped me in the past. I encourage parents to spend time preparing their child for their experience here at school. Talking with them about all the positive's about their time with us, things they can look forward to. If it was upsetting to the child to broach the subject, I would suggest just commenting as simply as seems comforting. Having a special ritual that is between Parent and Child is wonderful as well. Sometimes they come natural, but if a parent needs help with ideas I point them to Dr. Becky Baileys book, and or give ideas I have seen used. special scarf of moms (with moms smell all over it) loving placed around a childs shoulders can say soo much. Lots and lots of positive talking. Positive talk upon picking up for any positive changes in behavior.I have noticed the quickest results with a transition for a kiddo with separation anxiety with parents that are confident in their choice and are obviously ecstatic about our program. It shows through to the child (in my opinion) and helps the child ease into the new sittuation, trusting if Mom thinks it's great. they are more apt to give it a chance. If a Parent is doubtful I think it just makes it a bit harder for the child to trust and open up giving their time here a chance.Appreciated the read!Thank you.

Our Response:
Thank you for your interesting comments which I'm sure will be of value to our readers.
ParentingStyles - 28-Oct-15 @ 11:26 AM
As I read and reflected on this I agreed with all the thoughts shared by Emelia. I would add a few items that have helped me in the past. I encourage parents to spend time preparing their child for their experience here at school. Talking with them about all the positive's about their time with us, things they can look forward to. If it was upsetting to the child to broach the subject, I would suggest just commenting as simply as seems comforting. Having a special ritual that is between Parent and Child is wonderful as well. Sometimes they come natural, but if a parent needs help with ideas I point them to Dr. Becky Baileys book, and or give ideas I have seen used... special scarf of moms (with moms smell all over it) loving placed around a childs shoulders can say soo much. Lots and lots of positive talking. Positive talk upon picking up for any positive changes in behavior. I have noticed the quickest results with a transition for a kiddo with separation anxiety with parents that are confident in their choice and are obviously ecstatic about our program. It shows through to the child (in my opinion) and helps the child ease into the new sittuation, trusting if Mom thinks it's great... they are more apt to give it a chance. If a Parent is doubtful I think it just makes it a bit harder for the child to trust and open up giving their time here a chance. Appreciated the read! Thank you.
Sherwood - 27-Oct-15 @ 12:12 AM
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