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    Navigating Separation Anxiety: The First Day of School for Your Child

    Rinda Angom

    school kid hugging mom
    The first day of school is a significant milestone in your child's life, and it's not without its share of emotions - both for you and your little one. Being a parent can be challenging when your child struggles with the transition from familiar comfort to an unfamiliar environment like school. Children often experience separation anxiety during this process and so do the parents. Let’s check on what some parents had to express their anxiety when their little ones start school for the first time before we delve into understanding and coping with it.
    Getting High On Heights
    “ As a parent myself, I’ve experienced all kinds of anxiety, fear and confusion in the first two years of my child's life, but the bittersweet experience of sending them to school is incomparable. It is a strange mix of wanting to see your child independently wade in the waters while something crumbles deep inside, for they will not need us as much as they did before. On the brighter side, when the clouds of emotion dissipate, we rejoice thinking of the few hours of freedom that come with it. All in all an exciting time for parents and children alike. “ 
    Sukhmani Gill
    “I burst into tears. I hadn’t felt this sad ever. My thoughts were, “Will she be safe? Is she in good hands? Does she know how to stick up for herself? Will she feel happy and protected ? Will she even MISS me?”. With all that happening, I cried some more and then some more after I walked in her empty room. It kept going for a few hours till it was time for her to come home. I went outside way ahead of time to wait for her bus to come. I wanted to see my baby! Finally after what seemed like an eternity she came out, and I saw her smile. And I cried again. She was ok. She was happy. I was happy.”
    Zen A
    Getting High On Heights
    Getting High On Heights
    “Though the school was just for 2 hrs but still we had our concerns like if she had water, food intake and if she is ok..or might have hurt herself while playing...or has she communicated to the staff regarding poop/pee ... If she has eaten by any chance like chocolate, cake or chips as we also avoid her sugar intake and processed food. And of course most importantly is she able to adjust in the new atmosphere or missing us & crying."
    Swarna Sahoo
    “So, on Osel's first day of school he was obviously crying and not ready to let go off my hands and enter his new classroom but I was equally anxious. After leaving him at school I was constantly checking the time. The house seemed eerily quiet. It was strange not having him around. I was worried about how he was coping up in a new place.What a parent dreads on their child's first day of school is a call that something has happened to their child. Unfortunately, my fear turned real when I got a call from my husband( who was at work at the time) that the school was trying to reach out to me because Osel had a nosebleed and that I should come and pick him up. I reached the school promptly and took him home. He was fine, but it was definitely an eventful first day of school.”
    Choeden Tenzin
    Getting High On Heights

    Separation anxiety is common among children starting school. Originating from fear of the unknown and adapting to new situations, symptoms range from mild clinginess to severe distress or school refusal.


    Why Does it Happen?
    To children, the world is vast and intimidating. Being away from caregivers, facing unfamiliar surroundings, people, and routines can be overwhelming. They're learning to trust their caregivers' return after being left in an unknown place.
    How Can Parents Help?
    Prepare Early: Discuss school in advance, emphasizing fun activities like making friends or learning new games. Visit the school before starting, and read children's books about school to set expectations.
    Practice Separation: Before school begins, arrange short separations with trusted individuals. This helps them adapt to being away from you in a safe, controlled setting.
    Establish a Goodbye Ritual: Create a comforting goodbye routine, such as a special handshake or cheerful wave, to reassure your child and build confidence.
    Maintain Calm and Consistency: Children mirror parental emotions. Display confidence when discussing school or during drop-offs. Consistency in drop-off and pick-up times promotes security.
    Show Empathy: Validate your child's fears or anxieties, reassuring them that these feelings are normal and understandable.
    Promote Independence: Encourage independent actions at home, like packing their bag or choosing an outfit. This fosters self-confidence and prepares them for school tasks.
    The Bigger Picture: Separation anxiety is often temporary, with most children adjusting to new routines over time. If anxiety persists or significantly disrupts daily activities, professional consultation may be beneficial.
    Starting school is a crucial step for your child. With understanding and support, you can guide them through this transition, turning it into a positive, foundational learning experience.

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