Separation Anxiety

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by RedVac, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. RedVac

    RedVac Rookie

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    Dec 8, 2009

    I teach a class of three year olds two mornings a week. I have a child who has had separation issues since Thanksgiving. Today she was screaming so I took her to our library center and she screamed for privacy. I respected her request and eventually she calmed down and joined class. I am trying to help mom make sense of it and reassure her-but I think as a parent when your child is so over the top upset when you drop them off it is difficult. She is not the type of child that seems to calm down-I seem to make her more upset. Nothing has changed at home-the only thing I can think of is that she was sick before Thanksgiving and then with break she was gone a lot. Any help with what others have done would be great. Thanks!
     
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  3. Terri in CA

    Terri in CA Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2009

    hoping to hear others suggestions too

    I would love to hear others suggestions with this issue too.

    We have one little boy who is 3 1/2. He has been with us since June. 2 days a week mornings only. He still freaks out when its time to go outside for lunch and spends the whole time crying for his parents because he knows they come pick him up at playground time. Sometimes at the morning playground time he gets confused and thinks he will get picked up then too. He gets upset everytime his teacher leaves for a break or to use the bathroom. When he misses a day, that day back after not beeing here for 6 days is like the first day of school all over again.

    So I totally understand your fustration.
     
  4. teacherR

    teacherR Companion

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I had a child like this who was in my 3's two days a week last year and he cried for months. For the first month of school his mom hung out in the class and I had to ask her to leave. He was a wreck for months. This year I had a strategy for parents and children.

    First I follow the childs lead. Some children do not want me to talk or touch them and that is fine. I verbally reassure them that their mom and dad will always come back for them. We attempt to teach them how to watch the clock and every 1/2 an hour we tell them what time it is and how long they have till their mom comes back. This seems to really help. Remember that young children have no concept of time and they belive they have been abandoned. Until they fully understand that their parents will always come back they will be upset. Imagine if your parents left you with complete strangers for unknown amounts of time. Scarey!!

    Second: I explain the concept of time and the preschool mind to their parents. Sometimes parents don't realize they are making it worse by projecting emotions on to their child. They get nervous when their child is still upset after 3 months and assume something is wrong with school. I encourage them to explain to their child everyday that they are leaving but will be back in a certain amount of time. The best thing a parent can do is establish routine and consistency. I let them know up front that anytime their child is gone separation (sick, vacation, or weekends) anxiety will begin again and that they should be patient with their child as they learn to not be afraid.

    By the way the little boy from last year is my best friend and has not shed one tear so far this year! It takes time but it gets better. I am amazed everyday how this child, who before preschool, had never left his mother's side, has become a strong and independent boy.
     
  5. skyone

    skyone Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2009

    I have dealt with this problem a lot as I taught two and three year olds. The first thing I do is tell the parents not to peak through the window as it further upsets the child. Second, I tell them to put on a happy, excited face and not share their fears about the child going to school. Third, I tell the parents that they can call me anytime through the day to see how their child is doing. I reassure them that I will tell the parent if the child is still having a difficult time.

    I also put up a picture schedule of what we are doing that day. I go over it each time we transition an activity so the child can count how many more activities there are until the parent comes. I have found this to be the most effective. I have learned over the years that some children just take a really long time to get over the separation anxiety.

    I have seen other schools use an oversize bear for the children to hug. Our school (including myself) is a bit paranoia about lice so we have opted out of this idea.

    The best advice, just be patient. Reassure the parents that the children are okay and it just takes time. I tell the parents that the children crying are working the parents over Most of my criers tell me that if they cry long enough their parents will come and get them. Clearly this has happened in the past or the children will not cry for long periods of time. I tell the criers that if they play and have fun, their parents will come faster (time passes faster when having fun.) I completely discourage the parents from picking up the child earlier as the child learns that he can get whatever he wants.

    I had one that cried for 4 months last year and an hour each day. This year, he comes in with the biggest smile and asks what fun thing we are going to do that day. He also tells the criers that their mom will be back to pick them up. Too cute!
     
  6. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Dec 10, 2009

    I used a picture schedule too, and it really worked with my child who was having separation issues. I took pictures of the things we do, and put them in order on a file folder, with velcro. The last thing on the schedule was a picture of mom, to symbolize that she would be there at the end of the day. He could carry the schedule with him, and as we completed the activity, he pulled off the picture and put it in an envelope fastened on the back. It worked very well for him.
     
  7. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    Dec 12, 2009

    I have a child like this in my classroom this year (4yo). He still cries for a few minutes most days but then is fine. I made a picture schedule for him to look at to keep track of when it's go home time and that helped. Having him draw a picture for his mom and dad was also a big help. For a while his mom let him have a picture of his family that he kept in his pocket and when he was really sad he'd pull it out and look at it and sometimes give it a kiss. Then I would remind him that they were doing their "work" and he will see them when school is over and he goes home and refer to the visual schedule. I also color coded the hands on my classroom clock and would tell him "when the pink hand is on the 5 you will have to get ready for daddy to come. He no longer needs the picture, but isn't quite ready to let me take the visual schedule down. He sometimes draws the picture-- but I try to make sure that I have one of his favorite things to do out when he gets dropped off and steer him toward that or let him help me get things ready for the day and that seems to help alot
     
  8. Kase

    Kase Companion

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    Dec 19, 2009

    First of all, it doesn't help only going 2 mornings a week. With that type of issue they need all the consistency in the world. Too bad they can't come 5 days. I had a child that had separation problems and I told mom to give one hug, one kiss and tell your child that you will see them later. Never say goodbye. Then I take the child to our library/pillow area. After a few minutes he started to get up and he was ready to enjoy the day. I observed it for a few days and let the mom know that it was working and told her about the routine of me taking him to the library pillow to calm down. Now, he's completely fine and just walks in like he owns the classroom! Yes, children are all different but it takes time and a lot of following through and consistency. Best of luck!
     

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