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School Anxiety; An Excerpt from Dr. Cohen’s “The New Basics”
I vividly remember bringing my daughter to nursery school for the first time. Her mother and I were so apprehensive at the idea of leaving this little thing by herself for a whole two and a half hours. That morning, the family walked to the school with great ceremony, our daughter in her crisp new floral dress. When we arrived, there were already a dozen kids there, half of them screaming and hanging on to their parents’ jackets. After we spent an hour playing with all the toys available, we reached the fateful moment of separation. We kissed her good-bye and snuck out, but we didn’t get very far: We looked back to see our little girl’s blond curly head banging on the window. We ended up going back in and joining a happy group of kids and parents singing “The Wheels on the Bus.” We wanted to show her how much fun she could have, so much fun that we ended up staying there all morning and the next morning too.
The first day of school can generate a later but lesser form of separation anxiety. Some kids will have it the first time you leave them at school; others may take a few sessions.
How to Deal
The best way to drop your kid off at school is to stay a few minutes and then leave. The message you send when you leave confidently is that you approve of the place, and you approve of leaving them there, no matter how heartbroken you are. If you try to avoid the unease by prolonging your stay or over-explaining the process, you’ll only arouse their suspicion and anxiety. When you come back a few hours later, they’ll begin to understand that every departure is followed by a return. Not to mention that they’ll start to have a great time.