A Little Separation is a Good Thing
One of the things about a child going to kindergarten that is so new is the feeling of being apart from mom and dad for the first time. For most infants, one of the things they can count on the most is being able to be with mom or dad, all the time. It’s one of those constants that gives a young child that sense of stability and safety from which she can explore the world.
So when that moment comes when the child will be going off to kindergarten, it might be the first time that your child will be away from you for any significant period of time. And that can cause anxiety for the child as well as for mom and dad. But there are things you can do to prepare for that moment of separation so the shock isn’t so sudden and so the child can acclimate to the new world of public school.
The key to reducing the anxiety of that big move to kindergarten is to “test drive” separations from mom and dad in the year or so before kindergarten. Now, it’s fairly normal for a child to be with a babysitter for an evening. Often this is grandma or the child spends the evening with other relatives with whom there is already a fair amount of comfort and security. But you might think about making these kinds of separations more frequent to where the child knows he or she will be away from mom an evening each week indefinitely.
The importance of starting to make separations very routine is that you take away the idea that any separation is a rarity and that the routine is to be with you nonstop every day and every night. But at the same time, a very important event happens each time you drop your baby off at a sitters and she has a successful time away from the home. And that event is when you return to your child, safe and sound and the child begins to understand that mom and dad can go somewhere else, that they are safe while they are gone and that they will come back and take her home.
While this may seem simple to you, it’s a huge breakthrough to the child to come to that realization. And that understanding is crucial because when your baby goes to kindergarten, she will often wonder if mom and dad are alright. So giving her the ability to visualize where her parents are and what they are doing is tremendously helpful for her to feel secure that the world is a safe place and everybody is where they should be.
Giving your infant the ability to “see you” when you are apart is a huge help to that coping they go through as being separated becomes regular when she starts kindergarten and goes there each day. You know you child can visualize mom at home. But if you also let her get a feel for dad at work and be able to “see” him at his office after a nice visit or some time during “bring your child to work day”, then that coping becomes even easier.
By increasing the frequency and length of outings for your child during the last year before kindergarten, her confidence will increase and she will actually see times away from mom and dad as adventures and chances to do new things and have more fun than ever. And when that enthusiasm for trying new things is built up, then you have done a good job of reducing the impact of separation and empowering your child to get out there and be a success in her first year of school and every year thereafter too.