SO YOUR KID HAS SEPARATION ANXIETY
Two of my children have separation anxiety. If you have a kiddo who suffers from the same thing, I have a trick that just might rock your world.
It probably comes as no surprise that my two kids who suffer from separation anxiety are my two foster daughters. While the reasoning behind their fears is definitely different (and completely valid) than other children who might suffer from separation anxiety, I think this trick will work for you too.
I don't have a fancy name for it, but I guess for the purpose of this blog we can call it the "keep it safe" trick.
Background: I can't take credit for this trick... I reached out to a friend of mine who is a counselor several months ago asking for ideas on how we could help our foster daughters with this fear of theirs we may actually never come back for them when we dropped them off at daycare. This simple trick is one idea she gave me that completely changed the game for daycare drop-offs.
My counselor friend suggested trying to give the girls' something to "keep safe" for me while I'm away at work. I tell them this little item, be it a note, a bracelet, a headband, etc. is very important and it is their job to protect it. Then, I tell them I'll come back for said item later.
Heartbreakingly enough, my counselor friend told me it's likely the girls would believe I'd come back for said object sooner than they would believe I'd come back for them.
And even if this core belief isn't part of the issue with your child, I think the simple act of changing their mind and giving them a job to do during a drop-off meltdown just might be enough to let you slip through the door without incident.
I tested the waters with this little trick with a note that said "I love you," which I put into the pocket of my 3-year-old's pants one morning. Drop-off was better that day, but pick-up was horrible once she saw me and realized she had lost the note. I realized a note was too hard for a 2 or 3 year old to keep track of all day...
SO, instead of giving up on this trick, I switched it up. I almost always have a hair band around my wrist or in my car somewhere, so now this is what I use.
A hair band works for us because 1. I almost always have one on hand, and 2. It's easy for a toddler to keep around their wrist all day.
We don't have to use the "keep it safe" trick every day anymore, but occasionally I will whip out my hair band just as my child is tipping over the edge of a major daycare drop-off meltdown, and all will be right again.
You may opt for the "suck it up" method with your child, and that's totally fine too. But I think for obvious reasons, this wasn't an option for us with the girls. After all, it's always a real possibility they could be suddenly removed from our home by DHS, and the trauma surrounding their removal from their home the first time is still very fresh.
Anyway, that's my trick!
As a new school year begins, I hope this little trick can help your child adjust to a new routine with minimal meltdowns.