The first few weeks of nursery is always a time of adjustment and many children and parents feel a sense of separation anxiety which is perfectly normal. Separation anxiety is often caused by fear of the unknown when it comes to a new situation or it can relate to something that is happening at home or to something that the child has just experienced before arriving at school. No matter what the cause it is upsetting to everyone involved and as early years professionals, we are able to nurture the child who is upset, provide support to the parents who feel like they are abandoning their child and also help the other children feel at ease as they may start feeling anxious with seeing one of their peers upset.
As a mother of three, I have experienced my own share of separation anxiety and it is extremely challenging. It is one of the hardest things to deal with as a parent and very stressful. A child needs the reassurance of a familiar, consistent goodbye routine. I have seen some parents use a secret handshake or thumbs up, whilst others a kiss or a hug. My own routine was to exchange an eskimo kiss by rubbing noses with my child and whispering that I would be back soon to see what exciting things they had been doing at nursery. That special moment between both of you is a great way to start the day and provide a sense of reassurance. This signal will help them cope with the transition from being in mummy’s care to being in nursery care.
Put your trust in our nursery team, this may be difficult in the early days, when you do not know us very well, but keep in mind that we have a wealth of ideas and strategies to help settle a child who is feeling upset. The strategies may involve anything from a nurturing hug, redirection, pairing them up with another child or simply keeping the child close until they are ready to engage with an activity. Your teacher will step in to help with goodbyes when you give the sign that you are ready to go.
It is important to respect and accept your child’s temporary unhappiness as it very real and normal. Learning to cope with sadness is an important learning process for a child.
If your child needs to bring an item of comfort from home, like a special blanket or teddy please share it with us. I remember one little girl who was having a very difficult time making the transition to nursery. I introduced her to Mr Snuggles a soft cuddly hedgehog (from Europe) who would come into the classroom and sit on the shelf to be close to her, whenever she felt the need she would take it down and give it a cuddle. One day when she came into class, Mr Snuggles was holding a photograph of her family… we had made the connection… she never looked back after that! Mr Snuggles sits in my office available to step in at a moment’s notice….
If you feel you need to talk to us about how your child and your family are settling into our Ladybird community…… we have time to listen!
This is the treasure we need today – helping the child become independent of us and make his way by himself, receiving in return his gifts of hope and light.” ~Maria Montessori