Separation anxiety is quite normal for many children at various developmental stages. Currently, many families are heading back into centres. If you or your children experience separation anxiety here are some soothing strategies for you to try.
There are many reasons that separation anxiety may occur. In some cases, it may be due to new surroundings, such as starting at a new service or in a new room. In other instances, there may be no obvious reason and it can seem to come out of nowhere but is more common at certain developmental stages. Sometimes parental separation anxiety can impact a child, too.
Don’t despair though! While separation anxiety can feel distressing or even frustrating, there are many strategies you can try to ease it so that children, parents and educators can feel more relaxed as they progress through their days.
Top tips to manage and minimise separation anxiety
Give some of these ideas a try to tackle separation anxiety and soothe children so they can feel confident and comfortable in your childcare setting:
- Consistent routines
Children thrive on routine. In fact, we wrote a whole article about effective routines for children last week – read it here. When a child knows what to expect, they are able to adapt easily to their surroundings as they feel prepared. This can help to feel safe and secure in their environments even as they change.
- Promote positive goodbyes
Sneaking out while a child is distracted, drawing out the farewell to parents — there are many tactics everyone is tempted to try, but they’re rarely effective long term. A positive farewell should be brief and calm. Reassure a child by keeping it similar each time and remind them that their parent will return.
- Use transitional songs
The Bonkers Beat Music Program harnesses the power of music in many ways for centres and children – one such way is through the use of transitional songs. A transitional song is a great way to facilitate a smooth transition between activities in childcare settings. This same approach could be applied to the drop off period for parents and children. A simple song to be sung by families on the way into the centre each time could be a valuable addition to the routine to help everyone to adapt to the approaching shift in the environment.
- Strengthen bonds
Creating strong bonds with families and children helps everyone to feel more comfortable and can reduce separation anxiety (for parents as well as children). Keeping up regular communication and reassuring parents that you are committed to providing high quality individualised care for their children is invaluable.
- Keep calm and stay positive
Maximise your calming effect on children with a soft, warm voice and use comforting body language to work towards getting everyone settled in happily. Consider adding in positive affirmations to help children recognise their own power within. Positive thinking tools can help children to gain control over their feelings, explore mindfulness and find a sense of calm.
Positive affirmations also contribute to building children’s self-esteem, which helps children to feel secure and believe in themselves.
Overcome separation anxiety together with families
Periods of separation anxiety are never fun, but they are usually temporary. Working with families to overcome it together will make the process easier for everyone. Click the link below to gain a better understanding of building a child’s self-esteem. This resource is really helpful to work on understanding children and building their confidence.
If you have any tips for managing separation anxiety, we’d love you to share with us on Facebook.