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 EverythingTeachers, 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 AnxietyEmelia 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 BehaviourShe 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 LeftKaren, 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 GraduallyEventually 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.”
“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.”