Yesterday, I gave separation anxiety advice from moms who had been through it. Today, I’ve got advice from the people who really know what they’re talking about— preschool and kindergarten teachers.
When I wrote about Harlow’s trouble with camp drop-off, there were a few people who suggested that maybe she wasn’t ready and I should keep her at home. That’s not really an option for us because both Mike and I work during the day, but it did give me some pause.
It helped to read comments from teachers and daycare providers who not only talked about how common tough drop-offs are, but spoke really positively about what we are teaching our kids by leaving them there.
They also gave their best advice for a tear-free drop-off, with the majority saying it’s like ripping off a band aid. The quicker you leave, the less painful for everyone involved.
Separation Anxiety Advice from Preschool Teachers
“As an experienced kindergarten teacher and mother, I can tell you they cry just long enough to make you feel terrible and once you’re gone, they are fine. Think of it this way, you are teaching her that she can handle tough situations and strong feelings without you and that is so important in her development.” – Nicole
“As a preschool teacher, I have to tell you the best thing you can do is look confident when leaving. No wishy washy back and forth. If they think you’re not sure you should leave them there, then it seems way more scary.” – Karen
“As a former teacher who worked in childcare for years, I think dropping her off and leaving is the best thing you can do. The longer you stay, the more upsetting it will be. For you and her! She will eventually realize that you always come back and get better and better every week. And you will eventually realize that it’s important for kids to learn to become independent.” – Kelli
“Actual separation anxiety is when the child doesn’t calm down after the parent is gone. The tantrum that passes five minutes after mom finally leaves is all manipulation. As a teacher, it’s the worst when you have a screaming/crying/melting down kid and a mom who just won’t leave. Leaving quickly is easiest for everyone involved, but more importantly, it teaches your kid necessary lessons— that mom will come back and that meltdowns don’t work. You don’t want to set the precedent that if your kid throws down hard enough, they get what they want.” – Lindsay
“Each year at preschool orientation, I tell my parents that the trick to happy goodbyes, is quick goodbyes. Create a secret handshake like a hug, high five and blow a kiss. Do this every time you leave her anywhere. It might be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier each day. When parents stay or linger it gives the children the feeling of uneasiness. If they can sense that you trust the teachers (by leaving quickly) she soon will too!” – Mollie
“It’s very hard for parents to leave their crying child, but staying really does make it harder for both of you. It could also help escalate the situation. She may start crying harder because she knows it will make you stay.” – Dori
“The act of separating is agony, far more than actually being separated. So staying longer is just prolonging the agony. Let her help pick a drop-off phrase. Something simple like ‘I’ll miss you, but I know you’re going have a great day. Love you, bye!’ Say that every time and really nothing else. The back and forth just leaves her in a state of confusion. Rip off the bandaid and run!” – Katheryn
“My main advice is to drop-off and run. 99% of the time, kids are fine within five minutes of when their parents leave. I always tell parents that kids know exactly how to break their heart.” – Meredith
“Have lots of conversations about emotions and feelings. You can come up with ways together that you satisfy that need for attachment when you are both at home, like a special dedicated cuddle time.” – Jessica
It definitely helps me to know that teachers want you to leave your children even if they are crying. Not only do I feel bad for Harlow in these instances, I also feel like I am pawning off my melting down kid to someone else, which makes me think I look like a bad mom to everyone involved— not just my child.
I’m going to try to set aside my own insecurities and stay confident for Harlow. Wish us luck!