Is there a child in your care that experiences strong signs of separation anxiety?
As a child care professional, it may be difficult to know what to do in this situation or even how to talk to a parent/caregiver about the experience the child is having.
Below are some common questions and answers regarding separation anxiety that we hope will help you as a child care professional.
Question: I have a child in my center that cries for his mom all day and does not want to participate in any activities, how do I help ease his separation anxiety?
Answer: The most important thing is to be empathetic toward the child. Do not force them to join in classroom activities if they are not ready.
It is your job to provide nurturing and supportive care to the child. However, you may not be able to solve their anxiety for them. It may be that the best thing that you can do is be consistent, and provide a stable and safe environment for them and allow them to naturally progress through the stage in their own time.
Be sure to keep your relationship with his parent’s positive. You may not want to draw too much attention to his anxious behavior, and instead praise him when he does join in.
Question: I believe a child in my class has separation anxiety disorder, how do I help her?
Answer: First and foremost, you cannot give a child a diagnosis such as this. Only a medical professional can give a diagnosis so it is important for you to document the behaviors that you are seeing that may relate to separation anxiety disorder. Next, communicate with the family about what you are seeing and use that documentation for support should you need it. In addition to these things I suggest maintaining routines and familiarity as much as you possibly can in order to give the child a sense of security.
Question: How do you help ease separation anxiety for an older child?
Answer: The best option that I have found is to have consistency and routine. While this may be the case for your center and your drop-off routine, it is crucial to try to get parents to do the same. Often a stressful morning or a difference in routine en route to care can cause a lot of anxiety for older children. Speak with parents and see if they can create a strict and helpful routine each morning to help their child settle into care.
If your center does not have a similar routine each and every day then I recommend implementing one. This should include the same person(s) greeting the child, the same types of activities, the same place to put their things, etc. Combine this with some small tasks for the child to be responsible for (hanging their jacket up, putting their backpack in the cubby, etc) and you should see some progress.
Question: When a child is clearly upset that their parent is leaving, how do I make the transition easier on both the child and the parent without “taking” the child from the parent?
Answer: As with most decisions in child care it is important to know the child and work closely with the parents to figure out the best way to proceed. Often a child with typical separation anxiety attributes will be fine after a few moments after parents “drop off.” It may be best to communicate with the parents about making drop off time a short routine and remaining consistent other than “taking” the child from the parents. Encouraging the child to begin an activity or play with friends is one way to encourage them to separate from the parents willingly.
Question: What are the signs of separation anxiety disorder?
Answer: Separation anxiety disorder is classified usually as an extreme form of separation anxiety. There are very strong reactions to normal situations including drop off time at school or child care. Providers who can identify separation anxiety disorder symptoms can use this information to communicate with parents and families.
Here are some more helpful resources about separation anxiety disorder:
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