How to Ease the Separation Process

October 18, 2018
How to Ease the Separation Process

If you’re struggling to leave your child in the preschool room or with a babysitter for an afternoon, check out these tried and true tips from Lisa Zaretsky that work for any separation.

1. Establish a routine that works for your child

It’s best if the routine can remain consistent. For example, if your child’s routine is that you read two stories and then say goodbye, it’s best if a similar routine is followed when a different grown-up is with him.

2. Always say goodbye

While it may be tempting to slip out when your child is playing or engaged, he’ll eventually notice you’re gone and this can be unnerving and make it difficult for the child to relax and trust the process. It’s best to phrase your departure as a statement, rather than a question, so you’re not asking permission.

3. Follow through when you say you’re leaving

When your child is visibly upset, it can be extremely difficult to walk out the door. It’s tempting to say that you’ll stay for a few more minutes. Unfortunately when you change your plans based on your child’s reaction, it shifts a lot of responsibility onto your child. It’s better to say “I know you’re sad, but I’ll…” and do what you say you’re going to do. Trusting and counting on the adult’s words is an important part of the separation process.

4. Refrain from coming in and out

It can feel disruptive to your child if you’ve said goodbye, then you return, and then you say goodbye again. It can be helpful to acknowledge and discuss with your child that saying goodbye can feel sad.

Some helpful resources:

  • Oh My Baby, Little One by Cathy Apelt
  • Don’t Go! By Janet Breskin Zalben Clarion
  • You Go Away by Dorothy Corey
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

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