Preschool Separation Anxiety: How To Help Your Child (And Yourself) Be Brave On The First Day

Aug 23, 2017

Most parents understand the importance of enrolling their child in a good preschool program. According to several studies, 80% of children who participated in preschool programs outperformed their peers who did not participate in high-quality early childcare and educational programs.

But even though you know your child needs to attend preschool, that doesn’t always make it easier to say goodbye come September.  Preschool separation anxiety can significantly impact both children and their parents the world over, not just in Bergen County preschools, making it much more difficult for preschoolers to adjust to their new routine.

If you have worries about how you and/or your child will react, we’ve put together a brief guide with a few tips to help facilitate the transition — even before the very first day of preschool begins.

Focus on the familiar

By and large, separation anxiety can be attributed to a fear of the unknown. But by helping your child focus on activities (and even people) they recognize, you can help smooth the transition.

If possible, prior to their first day take your child to the classroom and introduce them to their teacher. Point out places in the classroom where they can partake in activities they like, such as drawing or story time.

When their first day rolls around, you can again draw their attention to these areas and to the teacher they’ve already seen. This can make the transition much less overwhelming and help them focus on something they enjoy when they attend their first day.

Have a goodbye routine

You might already be anticipating a teary farewell that first day. It’s okay to shed a few tears, but be sure to keep your goodbye brief. Drawing things out won’t help you or your child.

At the same time, resist the urge to sneak out when your child’s back is turned. That can lead to distrust. Ideally, you should give your child a hug, tell them you love them and that you’ll be back to pick them up, and leave promptly.

It can be really tough at first, but stick to this routine consistently and you’ll find that both you and your child will be able to adjust.

Give them a piece of home to bring along

Even if they’re enrolled in a top preschool program, your child may feel comforted to have an object from home with them, especially during those first few days. This can be anything from a stuffed animal or part of a blanket to special notes or a wristwatch. Anything that reminds them of the comfort of home and how much you care can work well.

You could even make a “comfort kit” that contains a few items your child can sift through if they feel lonely. While it’s important not to overly encourage attachments, it’s a great failsafe for when your child needs a reminder that their family loves them and that everything is only temporary.

Read a book that addresses a child going to preschool

There are numerous great children’s books that tell wonderful stories about going to school.  Most of these books can be read in less than five minutes but it is important to engage your child with questions during the reading. Reading is the most robust educational tool a parent can implement to gain a child’s trust and get a child passionate about reading and education.


Dealing with those first few days can be hard for many families. Once you find a good preschool program with a caring and understanding staff, you can start preparing for the transition.

But if you’re still looking for a facility, you should consider a preschool Bergen County families already love and trust. To find out more about how Lily Pond’s program can help your child succeed, contact us today.

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