Our 5 year old has been experiencing some level of separation anxiety these past few months. She has endured some pretty big changes; moving to a new home in a new state and also starting Kindergarten! I have been feeling a bit clueless lately in knowing how to help her. My wish is for her to be happy & carefree, enjoying these years as a small person with little to no responsibilities. While she is a happy-go-lucky kid, she is also uber sensitive and very responsible. Admirable qualities, however it has been getting the best of her in situations that have unknown outcomes and lack of structure; specifically at the transition point where I have to leave her side at school dropoff. She clings to me like a safety blanket, begging me not to leave her and it’s so hard to watch her gripped by fear and unable to fully enjoy certain situations where other kids are running around without the same weight on their shoulders. I try to assure her that I’ll be coming back and she will be okay if she can just relax, but it just hasn’t been enough. I hear that after I leave, she does calm down...which is great. But I would still like to address the ongoing trigger of her anxiety and have been looking into ways that we can help support her and alleviate her fears, while also testing out some new approaches in the New Year! Hoping to share some things which have been working and would LOVE for you to comment on any experience you may have and things that have worked for you.
Asha is super into yoga and deep breathing! She was introduced to these exercises at school and has been coming home excitedly to share all of the poses, counting, and relaxation that comes with deep breathing & focus. The photo above shows Asha indulging us in a little Sunday morning, living room yoga class
This exercise has proven a bit tedious and requires some extra time each morning (or night before... for you more prepared folks), but has been most successful. I have been drawing Asha a small sketch each day which she keeps in her backpack and can go look at should she miss me at any point during the day. The loose little papers started to collect and float around the house driving me nutso, so we moved over to a small notebook which I now add to everyday and lives in her backpack. She can also draw a picture back for me should she really need to channel some of that energy during free-time or after-school care.
The Kissing Hand
One of my best friends is a preschool teacher and she highly recommended the book “the Kissing Hand.” A heartwarming story about a little raccoon who doesn’t want to leave his mama when it is time for school. Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give her little raccoon the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Such a cute story with an on-point message!
Routine and extra time in the Mornings
This one is a game-changer. If I had to describe our morning routine, a few words that come to mind are: rushed, frantic, and hectic. There is no doubt in my mind that the anxiety occurring during school drop-off is not helped at all by the hectic morning we all just endured. Winter months are especially hard as none of us really enjoy waking up before the sun comes out, so has been most difficult getting everyone (myself included) out of bed. With the end goal being having a less rushed morning, we made a small series of changes:
Getting to bed earlier! Starting the bedtime routine at 8pm ensures they are in bed and sleeping by 8:30
Picking out clothes before bedtime
Moving the morning alarm up by 30 mins
We are now able to fill the morning air with light conversations & laughter. The usual mad dash to put on shoes and jackets is now much more calm. None of this is rocket science, but boy have these changes made all the difference.