Photo Credit: J. Merritt/Getty Images
Tori Spelling has been tweeting about her 2-year-old daughter Stella’s upsetting separation anxiety during her first days of preschool. Recently Tori wrote, “I said to Stella ‘you get to go to school today & play and see your friends’ & she smiled & said ‘And you're gonna leave me.' My heart broke!” Ugh, what mom doesn’t know that feeling?
The truth is, us moms have so much anxiety of our own on the first day of school -- and that’s just when all goes seamlessly. It's worse when the kid feels it, too. I think most of us knows that horrible, pit-in-the-stomach feeling when your child looks at you teary-eyed and questions if you’re abandoning him forever.
I had issues like this with both of my children. I even recall spending the entire first day of preschool in the coffee room so I could be accessible if my sorrowful son needed me. There, as I chugged my fourth cup of joe, I received sage advice from my son's teacher, Miss Carole. She said, “Never sneak out, always tell him you’re coming back, and don’t have long, drawn out goodbyes.” I was shaking as she imparted this wisdom, though I’m not sure whether it was my nerves or the caffeine.
Miss Carole was a seasoned pro who had watched mom after mom make the separation harder on their children. She went on to explain why these methods work. Sneaking out may seem like a quick fix, but once your child notices your absence, the process starts all over again and your babe feels deserted. Reminding your child that you always come back is reassuring. It’s a perfect thing to say with your “goodbyes” and “I love you's.” Also, resist the urge to stay in the room too long -- it reinforces the crying, whining or tantrums. It shows your sweetie that if she carries on, she can get you to stay, which makes leaving that much harder.
Apparently, Tori listened to her daughter's teacher, too. The next day, she tweeted: “I'm doing what the teacher says. She says 2 never sneak out and that today I should stay a bit and then say ‘I'll be back. I always come back.’”
In the end, the best fix is time. As your child gets used to school, the teachers and the morning routine, they tend to adjust. After three days, Tori stopped tweeting about separation anxiety -- most kids are over it by then. I think each of my kids took about a week, but they’ve managed to avoid home schooling and now enjoy school. Well, as much as any other kid, that is.
How have you dealt with your kid's separation anxiety? Chime in below!