Mild separation anxiety is normal on the first day of kindergarten, especially all-day kindergarten, so Psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard shares five tips to help:
1. Start preparing them early. Ask, “Do you have any worries about kindergarten?” If they do, try and be understanding of the worry. Say, “That is a big worry. I understand.” Next, reassure them. Tell them that if their worry comes to fruition that you will help them and you will figure it out together.
2. Make sure they are familiar with the plan. If they are taking the bus, walk them to the school bus stop before the first day and say, “This is where we will hug say good bye on your first day.” If they are being dropped off, make sure you do a pretend run through before their first day. Drive through the drop off area and say, “This is where we will hug and say good bye. This is where you will get out of the car and go into school.”
3. If they identify they are nervous the morning of their first day, empathize with their feelings. Reassure them that it is normal to have first day jitters- that most kids are feeling exactly the same way. They are not alone.
4. Bookend their day. Give them a specific and concrete time that they will see you that day will help them avoid feeling like the separation not is endless. Let them know that you love them and you will see them at 2:30 when they get off the bus.
5. Ask them if they would like you to send a note for them in their lunchbox.