Bye Bye Goodbye: Tips and Tricks To Ease Your Toddler's Drop Off Separation Anxiety!
Good Morning Beautiful Family!
I hope you all are having a beautiful, crisp fall week so far and you are celebrating the small victories as more things slowly start to open back up. Daycare and school has opened and for some of your littles getting away for a few hours may feel exciting and new, while others may be feeling overwhelmed with separation anxiety at the thought of leaving you. After many long months of lots of one on one time with your little, dropping your little off for a few hours is the much needed break you have been craving. So, I'm sure it feels very traumatizing leaving them screaming, crying, and begging for you to not walk away. We all deal with some form of separation anxiety at points in our life, but separation anxiety can manifest itself in your toddler in very aggressive and overwhelming ways. That being said, this feeling is very normal for your little. In this article, we'll explore some tips and tricks that may make goodbyes a little easier and smoother.
Tip 1: Establish A Consistent and Predictable Goodbye Routine With Your Little: Of course life happens and things do not always go as we planned but having a goodbye routine can be very key. If this routine stays consistent, your little always knows what is coming and is not thrown off. Once they get the hang of the routine, they have just as much ownership over it as you do and all parties can feel calm. This could be as simple as establishing a little phrase you say every time, waving from a specific place (*from the window if you're in a car or a certain place on the sidewalk), giving them a hug and a kiss.
Quick Goodbyes: Keeping your hugs, kisses, and goodbyes short and sweet is very crucial with separation. I know from experience of nannying and teaching that tears do not last long. There are so many things to do in the new environment they are in and so many friends to play with and snacks to be had and loving arms from teachers. So, the tears quickly dissipate. It's the actual goodbye that can feel the most overwhelming. The faster this is, the better.
Staying Positive: I know it can be heartbreaking seeing your little sad and in tears but if they see that you are happy, confident, and positive about the drop off, that may ease some of their stress. Seeing you upset may only make things worse.
Drop Off Same Time Every Day: Pick an earlier drop off time when less kids are there, so that you and your little can take a minute for them to get adjusted. Keeping this drop off time the same will allow for a routine to be established and no surprises to occur.
Avoid Sneaking Out: As hard as it may be to endure the actual goodbye, sneaking away can create trust issues for your little. That overwhelming feeling will only grow stronger if you were there and suddenly you were gone with no goodbye.
Tip 2: Talk Drop Off Up: Before drop off happens, either the night before or on your way there, talk about how exciting it's going to be once they arrive to daycare or school. Ask them questions about what they did the previous day, what their teachers or caretakers are like, who their new friends are, what kinds of cool toys they played with and activities they did. Once your little establishes ownership of this cool place they get to go to, then leaving you will become easy because they love this new, exciting place. Also make them aware that you will be back at a specific time to get them, so they don't worry about that.
Tip 3: Comfort Item: Having an object such as a favorite stuffed animal or blanket may serve as an easier transition from home to this new place. Having something that is theirs may make this new, foreign place seem less scary. (*When I was little, I had a stuffed bunny named Bun Bun that went everywhere. It always made leaving my Mom a little easier.)
Tip 4: Reading Books About Separation Anxiety: What better way to show your little that separation anxiety is normal and that it's easy to overcome than reading! Here's a list of some great books:
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick
I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt
Daniel Goes To School by Becky Friedman
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli
That's Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Tip 5: Final and Maybe Most Important Step, Always Prepare For Setbacks: As I mentioned above, life happens and just when you've finally established the perfect routine and are able to leave with no tears, something may change. So, having conversations with your little that sometimes things may be different such as being in a different classroom, or having a substitute teacher, etc. will help them create awareness around this.
With establishing any new routine, there is always trial and error. So stay patient and positive and know that the tears are only temporary!
Sending Good Vibes and Happy Drop Offs!