Education Insight| How To Help Children Overcome Separation Anxiety

In the beginning of a new semester, children have unsettled feelings when they start a day in a new environment. Meanwhile, parents are also worried and have lots of questions: “Did s/he cry?”, “How long did s/he cry?”, “Did s/he have a proper lunch?”, “Is there anyone in Nursery that would comfort her/him?” All these a re common signs of separation anxiety. It happens to most pupils and parents at the beginning of a semester.

The first challenge for some children when they part from home and settle in a nursery is to handle separation anxiety. It is common in young children and a normal part of children’s development. The new environment, separation from parents and failing to get full attention from their parents may lead to children’s unsettling feelings or insecurity.

Before the start of school, Huili Nursery Hangzhou collected pupils’ information, covering personality, independence, interests, etc. All the information was shared with class teachers, teaching assistants and early years assistants to learn more about individual children. This information was used to ensure that before the children came to the Nursery we were as ready as possible to ensure they were settled. Whether through putting photos of their family in the class or through preparing for their favourite toys or hobbies.

Teachers adopt various ways of settling children at different year levels and parents can also use some of the strategies as listed below. Please be aware that these are only a few of many many strategies that teachers employ.

For EY1 pupils, it was suggested that parents could begin to leave the children in Nursery for a couple of half days to ease the anxiety while adjusting to the new environment. If there is certain word for a child to go to the toilet, Chinese teachers will help western teachers to become familiar with the sound to better communicate with the children.

For EY2 pupils, teachers usually use games and activities to attract children’s attention, creating a joyful environment and focusing on children’s wellbeing.

In EY3 classes, under the teachers’ guidance, children are encouraged to explore and be positive about the new change in Nursery and classrooms. Children will be motivated by exploring the new environment and playing with new materials.

EY4 pupils more easily adjust to the Nursery routine. Therefore, at this stage teachers set up a higher goals for them and guide them to be models for younger pupils.

Separation anxiety can be a worry for parents, too. How can you cope with this situation and help children better adjust to the new stage?

Consistency: Separation anxiety cannot be overcome overnight. We encourage all our parents to demonstrate consistency until their child has adapted well into their environment.

A Warm Cuddle: Give your child a warm cuddle when you leave. Please do not sneak out. And please do not try to stay in the Nursery looking through the window or door. This does not help anyone.

A Proper Goodbye: Do not suggest to your child that you will be back soon. Please let the child know that though you are leaving now you will pick him/her up on time in the afternoon.

Positive Encouragement and Guidance: When you communicate with your child after school, try asking positive questions, “Did you have a good day?”, “What activities did you have today? I believe that you will make many friends soon”.

Trust: We appreciate parents’ trust by choosing our Nursery and continue to improve on every aspect in our daily work. Meanwhile we hope that parents can trust teachers’ expertise and believe in your children that they are about to overcome the new challenges in their development.

Overcoming separation is a process and a challenge that parents and children experience together. It is hard but a normal occurrence. Once children are familiar with daily Nursery routines, it will help establish a sense of security and better fit in Nursery life.

Have a wonderful weekend – it has been nice to be so close to the children this past week and also work more and more closely with mums and dads as well.