My son started his playschool at 2.2 years; this age is a common age to start playschool in Indian scenario. Moreover my son was very clingy as we lived in a nuclear family and he was always hooked on to me. So I took a sigh of relief when his school started as I knew I will get three hours of time to unwind and finish my chores . But my happiness did not last long as he use to sit in his class for three hours and just cry. All this was enough to send me on a guilt trip and there came a time when I wanted to withdraw his admission from the play school. But my husband gave me two choices or plans – Plan A was to let him be in the same school for one month, plan B was to let him be in the same school for two months. Well, you guessed it correct. There was no choice of withdrawal of admission. So with no choice in hand, I had to be firm and strong. I was surprised that as I strengthened myself it started reflecting on my child’s behaviour. He was soon a happy and settled child in school. Battle won!
Most parents sail in the same boat when their little ones start going to a playschool/ day care/ preschool for the first time. Your heart goes out when you hear your child screaming, howling in an ear piercing and earth shattering pitch. These are easy ways to help you and your child deal with separation anxiety-
- It is a normal thing which happens with most of the children. Don’t forget that it is just a phase and shall pass. Avoid overreacting and be relaxed.
- If possible then try to practice separation for few minutes at same time of the day for few days before play school starts.
- Never show that you are disturbed and affected by your child’s unsettling issues. Keep a calm composure in front of him/her even if you want to bang your head against the wall or cry out aloud. Control Yourself.
- Do not discuss these things with your friends and relatives. A child as young as two years knows that you are talking about him even if he has not started speaking clearly. They start enjoying this attention and can do more tantrums for the sake of it.
- As soon as you pick the child from playschool, it is not a good idea to expect him/her to tell you what happened in the school. In your excitement to know everything please do not forget that he is very tired. Those hours spent in playschool/daycare have left him exhausted. I have seen parents complaining that their child does not tell them about the happenings of the day. Actually the best time to involve your child in this conversation is bed time. Children are relaxed and will tell things on their own without any efforts from you.
- As soon as you drop the child to the class teacher, move out of the scene immediately. Do not stay there to see his reaction; it mostly acts as a trigger for crying.
- Try sending interesting snacks in the snack box. You can try your child’s favourite food items as they act as distraction for children. Initially he/she might not eat food for days but eventually they start relishing it. Be prepared that an untouched snack box will come back home for few days in the beginning. Also, vomit and headaches are common occurrences during separation anxiety.
- Share your child’s likes, dislikes, allergies etc with the teacher before your child starts the school. This helps the teacher in bonding well with the child.
- Play school acts like a transition link between home and formal school. It allows the child to feel comfortable even outside the warm surroundings of home. Don’t be surprised if you get to know something about your child’s behaviour which is least expected. Be ready for surprises, I have seen a docile child transform to an aggressive one. It’s just a phase and shall pass .Remember that group dynamics is very different and children behave differently in large groups than at home.
- Try to follow a set schedule for the day, avoid late night outs and put your child to bed on time. Children who have not slept well through the night are very cranky during the day. A good night’s sleep is a must.
- Give yourself and your child a reasonable time, don’t set unrealistic expectations or expect over night wonders. There is no magic wand to settle him down, factors which will help are- patience and positive attitude.
- If your child enjoys doing Art and Craft then help him make some craft which he can carry to the school. Children take pride in sharing and talking about their creations and he will look forward to go to school. Toys should be avoided for this endeavour. D o not forget that your child be with other children of his age and everyone will attempt to grab the toy, all this might make your child more insecure.
Happy schooling and wish you and your baby All the best!