We want your children to be happy and confident when you leave them in our care. It is distressing if this is not the case and separation and anxiety issues can quickly escalate. Here is our advice to help children learn to deal with separation issues, stress and anxiety.

What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is an anxiety caused by being apart from someone they love and rely upon. The majority of children will experience separation anxiety at least once in their life. It may occur during their first year when you leave a room and the child is unable to grasp that you will come back. However, it’s also very normal for it to occur when the child is older in response to a new routine, like starting at Pre-school or Nursery. It may also be linked to seemingly unrelated events that knock their sense of security - a new sibling, moving house or a stress in the family.

Our Advice

  • Parent/Carers should emphasise to the child that they will be OK, and that you will be OK, when you are separated.
  • Prepare your child by talking about Pre-School. Look at their Transition Photo sheet together and chat about the staff, areas of the room and garden and the toys. Your Spend the Morning session should have given them and you the chance to familiarise yourselves with the Pre-School.
  • Establish a routine for leaving them and stick with it, for example, say to them: “I’m going to give you a hug, a big kiss and then I’m going to Asda. I will pick you up afterwards”. Talk to them about what you’re going to do once you have picked them up and you are back together again - for example, “After I’ve picked you up from Pre-School, we’ll go home for some lunch”. This tells them clearly that the time apart is only temporary and you’ll see them again soon.
  • Don’t look back! Say “goodbye, I love you!” and walk away. Don’t attempt to sneak off when they’re distracted as that could increase their sense of abandonment and anxiety. Try not to show them you are upset. Stay positive and remind them of all the good things they can look forward to that day.
  • Resist the temptation to linger at the setting or return. Phone in an hour to check things are OK if you wish to, but they almost certainly will be. If there was a real problem, we would contact you!
  • For the majority of children, however many tears are shed when you wave goodbye, they will be fine once you have gone. Please rest assured that the experienced staff at Pickles Pre-School know what to do and say to reassure children and how to distract them from their anxiety.
  • Some children do take longer to become accustomed that their parents are not there. All children settle in their own time so please remain positive.