Preschool drop off can be traumatic for parents and children; when it comes to separation anxiety, the struggle is real. Thankfully, there are expert tips that can help you and your child start the day off on the right foot.
The terrible twos (or threes or fours…) are hard enough, now we have to deal with preschool drop off on top of it.
For more guidance on things to do with your preschooler, including local activities and events, join Twin Cities Kids Club.
Preschool Drop Off Dos and Don’ts
At this stage in your parenting career, you’ve likely had enough experience with adhesive bandages to know the drill. When you remove the bandage, the longer you drag out the experience, the more painful it is for the child. Therefore, most moms and dads know that you simply rip the bandage off.
Better to have the pain over and done with, than try to avoid the pain by going slowly!
The same rules apply when you’re talking about preschool drop off. Don’t hang around and try to ease the transition. This advice may sound callous, but it’s actually better for everyone involved: just leave.
Of course, you want to say good-bye to your child and greet their teacher. But avoid prolonging the whole ritual if at all possible.
When you reward your child’s tears and yelling with attention and your presence, it creates a vicious circle. Your child cries because they want you to stay; if you stay, they will keep crying!
But Don’t Ghost Your Kid, Either
Now, nobody likes an Irish goodbye. The opposite of lurking nearby until the next scheduled meteor shower is not silently disappearing while your child is distracted.
You want your child to feel secure and to trust you (and their teacher). Children experience separation anxiety precisely because they are concerned about their parents abandoning them. The worst thing a parent can do in that context, then, is to vanish when children least expect it.
If mom or dad exhibit a positive attitude toward preschool drop off, children will pick up on their vibe. Look happy and confident, rather than sad or scared. Kids are observant, they will notice if you give the impression of cheerful assurance.
Your demeanor certainly sends a message to your child about school: it’s something to be happy about, not scared. In addition to your conduct, the words you say matter in this context.
Say things like, “You’re going to have so much fun at school!”
Greet your child’s teacher confidently. Smile and say hello. Show your child that there’s no reason to be afraid of their teacher.
You can also model for your child what appropriate behavior at preschool drop off looks like.
It’s Okay to Show a Little Tough Love
Of course, it is natural for parents to have mixed emotions about preschool drop off. Depending on the birth order of the child and the parents’ level of experience, emotions can run high. Especially if it’s the first day of school, parents can be just as nervous as their kids (if not more).
A firm, kind, “I love you, and I’ll see you later today,” may sound harsh, but it’s for the best. Loving words, hugs, and kisses (if they’re the norm in your family) remind your child that you care.
Feel free to lose it once you get outside or in your car! But until they get comfortable, your kid needs to feel like mom or dad are confident about school.
Be Sure to Validate Your Child’s Emotions
If your kid is nervous or sad, you can remain positive for them without undermining their feelings. Putting on a happy face and being upbeat doesn’t mean saying things like, “You’re fine,” or, “Stop crying.” Certainly don’t act like you don’t notice or care about their tears.
The last thing your kid wants is to feel like they are somehow letting down their parents. They’re dealing with enough at preschool drop off. Don’t add to their burden with your own irritation, indifference, or anguish.
Leave ‘Em Wanting More
Here’s a helpful hint for a smooth transition at preschool drop off: give your child something to look forward to. A promise to say, get ice cream later, reminds your child that life goes on after school.
Furthermore, a pledge like this gives the teacher a hand, too. If your child is still upset after you leave, this gives their teacher a script.
The teacher can ask your child to tell them some more about your future ice cream date. Requests like this from their teacher changes your child’s focus to a positive event with mom or dad.
If you can’t do a special treat like ice cream, a simple promise to see them after school is fine. This simple reminder signals to your child that you are not leaving them there forever.
A Free Twin Cities Kids Club Membership To Ease the Preschool Drop Off Blues
For preschoolers, tokens like hugs and words of affirmation – combined with a firm and definitive, “Goodbye” – are the key. Top all of this off with a pledge to see them after school, and maybe even a fun parent-child activity.
Children take their cues from their parents. They look to mom or dad to show them how to behave in different situations. Preschool drop off can be an emotional time, but it doesn’t have to be traumatic.
If you’re looking for ways to soften the blow of the morning goodbye, Twin Cities Kids Club can help. Twin Cities Kids Club members have access to discounted and even free activities and events. Once you’re a member, you don’t have to worry about after-school activities to which your child can look forward.
Preschool drop off can be difficult for children, teachers, as well as mom or dad. When you sign up for a Twin Cities Kids Club membership, you make life just a little bit easier. With a Twin Cities Kids Club membership, you’ll have access to discounted local activities, events, and even restaurants.
Don’t sweat the preschool drop off. Give yourself a back-to-school gift this year. Sign up for a free Twin Cities Kids Club membership today.