My oldest just turned 3 in June and he had his first day of preschool this week! The days are really long but the years really do go by quickly. My children both seem to have a lot of anxiety and although I have given them many, many opportunities over the years to be away from me (dayhome, Sunday School, gymnastics, etc), they still have a very difficult time being apart from myself or my husband. It involves a lot of preparation on our part to make sure they are emotionally alright, and yet they still cry and cry when they are away from us.
The most important way for us to build up their courage is to read to them. There is a lot of research to support this.
According toEarly Moments, reading to young children help with their logical skills. It helps them to "grasp abstract concepts, apply logic in various scenarios, recognize cause and effect, and utilize good judgement". As well, it helps them to acclimate to new experiences. Reading them relevant stories as children approach new milestones or stressful experiences help to "ease the transition." For us, reading stories about going to school has helped our son prepare for this new time in his life. It has still been a difficult journey for us, but reading stories has certainly helped. Here are some great books that we have found helpful:
1. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn - A raccoon is scared for his first day of school so his mother gives him a kiss on his hand and tells him to hold on to it and place it on his cheek whenever he feels scared so that he will remember that his mommy loves him. Our copy came with little heart stickers you can stick on their palms too. My son really loved this.
2. Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney - Llama llama has his first day of preschool and he is so excited until his mommy leaves. This is exactly how our son felt and he was able to relate to him completely. This book displayed how fun school could really be without mommy by your side.
3. Daniel Goes to School by Becky Friedman - My son loves Daniel Tiger and I love how Daniel Tiger is always talking about his emotions and how to cope with them. In this story, Daniel learns that grown ups always come back and that is the exact message that my son needed to hear.
I hope that if you also have a child with separation anxiety, that these books will help you too!
As always, please leave any comments about what helped your child with their anxiety or let me know if you have any questions. And subscribe for updates on our blog below!