Separation Anxiety during COVID: 3 tips for easy transition to preschool

Separation Anxiety has become extremely common among young children during COVID-19. The reasons primarily are closure of schools, lack of socialisation, being around with parents all the time and of course learning new COVID rules of social distancing. Ryan is no different here. As the schools resume in person activities, Ryan and many other children of his age are facing new version of anxiety today. It is called separation anxiety due to COVID. You are sailing in the same boat as Tanya and Tanmay, if you are worried about how to send your child back to preschool. Ryan’s parents have tried and tested some easy transition practices to help ease Ryan’s anxiety. We hope this can help you too

Firstly, if the schools have not begun yet you can trace your child’s behaviour to notice any symptoms for separation anxiety building up in them:

Separation Anxiety within home:

Tanya had noticed that Ryan often became anxious when she saw either Tanmay or herself walking out of the house for simple reasons like grocery from neighbourhood store or putting away trash. So if you observe children getting uncomfortable or anxious with your actions like moving away for a while, it is surely alarming

Parent working outside home:

Neither Tanya nor Tanmay was working outside during the Pandemic. However, Ryan’s schoolmate Jahan had his mother working outside as a frontline worker. It was seen that Jahan was terrified with the idea that her mother would not return. This was because of the negative news he saw on television everyday. So there could be some symptoms that can develop due to inescapable social conditions. So if you are a parent who is possibly a frontline worker you can look out for this in your children

News for rejoining the preschool:

Preschools have done tremendous job in providing young children with continuous education through online platforms. This has given children comfort to be in their homes and gain education. Ryan enjoyed homeschooling combined with his online preschool sessions. He simply loved being with his mother learning new stuff everyday. Now the sudden news of his preschool reopening made him extremely uncomfortable. This can be a very common symptom that you may observe in your child considering the current situation.

If you have observed one or many symptoms as mentioned above, you can try to practice the following strategies to ease the stress and make your children transit smoothly to the preschool:

Set up proper routines:

You may already have a set routine in the pandemic for your children. Incase you do not have, make one today. There was still time for Ryan’s in person sessions to begin. The school was still continuing with the online sessions. Taking this opportunity Tanya made sure that she created a new ritual for school. After breakfast every morning, Ryan would practice saying goodbye to Sophie and Tanmay, take his bag and move to him room to begin his online sessions. When Ryan would bid goodbye to Tanmay, he would hand over a smiley sticker to him for his courage.

Be creative:

Play is a vehicle for children’s learning. Tanya and Tanmay tried taking charge of play to help ease Ryan’s anxiety. They played games like hide and seek with him. As a result of this, Ryan stayed away from them for temporary periods which helped him understand that it is okay to be away from parents and he will find them soon. You can either use this method or be creative to find your own way to make your children understand that staying away is just temporary.

Model calmness:

It is important for parents to be ready before preparing children for preschool. How much ever you try keeping them apart from negative news or set up routines, they look at the frustration and anxiety coming from you. If you look anxious they would possibly loose confidence. For this, Tanya and Tanmay would help Ryan recollect some amazing and positive memories of preschool before COVID times. This would help them to stay calm as well as help Ryan gain some confidence. So you could do this too, preach calmness and practice it along with them.

So separation anxiety during COVID can be common and temporary. But if you observe prolonged symptoms that directly affects the children’s work then it can be a red flag too. Reaching out to your childcare provider in such cases can help you and your children better.