Some advice for dealing w/separation anxiety?

I have 5 children. My 3rd born will be starting preschool in the fall, so I sent him to a summer camp week to get familiar w/the school and staff. The first day he was fine, after that, not so much. He was having some serious separation anxiety and would throw out any excuse not to go, and have crazy tantrums at drop off.

At any rate, my question is does anyone have any suggestions for my husband and I to try for our sons anxiety. He is already saying school is stupid and does not want to go. My older 2 never had a problem with staying at school so this is all brand new to us.

I would appreciate ANY suggestions, and thank all who answer in advance.

PS- I was a preschool teacher for 10 years before I had my own children, so I have dealt w/this situation on the other side, it is just SO different when it is your own child going through this.

4 Answers

  • Mac S
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well, I hope I'm not the only one who'll at least try to help here. Geez. You mention the first day was good (great!), but after - not so good (bummer): I'm gonna assume you and/or hubby talked w/ your boy about anything that happened on day one that may have made him uncomfortable when he started acting up. Hopefully nothing, but kids that age don't know how to express themselves all that well, especially w/ new concepts that are difficult to describe. The follow-up, speaking w/ the staff to see if they saw signs of trouble with your boy's behaviour, OR his classmate's behaviour, is always a good idea. Although complete honesty from staff in the DC, PK, and even K arenas can be elusive..."Oh! Little Johnny was great!" <--Anyway, all that is just about trying to figure out the problem, sometimes impossible. Ain't parenting great!

    Installments 4 this I guess ?

    Separation anxiety is the most obvious diagnosis, but there may be something simple at the root of it. For instance; you didn't mention whether or not your boy has any neighborhood, church, etc. friends along w/ him at camp. If not, your boy's gone from mommy and four siblings to a bunch of strangers like BLAMMO! That wouldn't be so bad really for just one day, kinda interesting maybe (?) for a kid. But for a week? That would suck for a lot of kids aaand adults <--I include myself. Social skills are not learned overnight, thus the need for camps such as the one your boy's enrolled in (props to you, btw). I'm guessing he's alone in a strange land for now, but if not...well, that's another beast.

    Ok, the older kids can prolly help a little as role models here. To a point though, you don't want to make your boy's difficulty the hot topic of conversation at every chance. When it's convenient or timely however, and you've got the family together, ask your older kids what they remember about PK and just let #3 listen in if he likes. If he wants to chime in, that's great! Like: "We did that too! That was cool!" (best case) or, "Yeah, teacher says we're gonna do that tomorrow...sounds boring" (meh) - at least he's talking on his own volition. And, kids your boy's age are naturally a bit self centered, so when the conversation is NOT about him, he'll prolly want to add to it eventually.

    You didn't mention girls (ewww): either. W/ 5 kids you must have at least 1 in there somewhere! So, I'll assume again that your boy has a sis or 2 and is reasonably comfortable w/ 'em - cuz they're family. Boyz & a bunch of new girls...*sigh*...well, we all know how that goes 'till death do us part. Bs & Gs tend to segregate naturally during free play, however (damn howevers):, there are always gonna be those group activities when B & G must interact (ewwww!). It may or may not be an issue for your boy and there's really nothing that could be done anyway. He'll just have to 'suck it up' like any other man-to-be.

    Btw, everything at that age is a maybe - sorry, you knew that. This next one is easy for me to talk about cuz my boy wet his pants 'till the 3rd grade. For us it was no biggie, nothing to be ashamed of in other words. We simply told him that if he was teased to just look the offenders in the eye and ask 'em "What? You never peed your pants before?" That typically shut the other kids up - or best case turned the ugly eye back on them...I mean, how does a kid respond to that? "No"? Liar!!!LMAO! Anyway, I'm not sayin' that's your boy's trouble, but if it is try to find some humor in it. It'll soon pass (pun intended;).

    I'm almost done - promise. Teaching styles! You mention you've taught b4 so you must be aware of the infinite # of styles out there. Well, this is your boy's 1st experience w/ an authority figure who's trying to do mommy's job, but does it all wrong (dangit!). Not much to be done about this one either. I, for example, hated nap time and made my teacher's lives a living hell to the point they'd get me out of the classroom and off of that nasty mat! Cooperation is stressed big time in PK for good reason, but it's not the easiest thing to adapt to especially when one doesn't give a rat's patootie about his classmates. Enter a brand new concept..."temporary".

    Kids and even many adults don't understand, or refuse to believe the definition of 'temporary'. It's a big scary word that's interpreted bassackwards in children especially. Temporary means "this is gonna take FOREVER, and I'm gonna HATE it" to a kid. Ya hafta give kids credit though - it's a very ambiguous word that seems (to a child) to have two opposing meanings. Parents/adults often use "for a while" in its place. When the kids are having a good ole time at the fun-center and it's time to go (in real adult time), "C'mon Johnny, we're going to the fun-center for a while!" is completely forgotten and the moaning begins. When it's "C'mon Johnny, you're going to school for a while", the moaning begins. Can't win right? Wrong. This is where using the word temporary for what it trully means comes in. Comparisons must be made, real time must be factored, reminders of temporary times past that seemed like punishment, but became a good time in the end. "Remember that time you threw a tantrum cuz you didn't want to go to gramma's - and then you threw a tantrum when it was time to come home cuz you had so much fun?" You know what I mean...happens all the time and there's no explaining it to a kid without consistant real examples being reiterated. Convincing a child that all things in life (good & bad) are temporay is difficult, but not impossible. Time management and teaching kids how to read a clock helps a LOT. "Johnny, you're going to school from 8 'till 12, then we're going to the store for 1 hour, and then home for a snack, then you can play 'till daddy gets home at 6 when we'll have dinner." The concept of an hour eventually takes hold. There are good hours like "We're leaving for the fun-center in one hour" <--cuz Johnny's happy about going to the fun-center and he'll prolly NOT be a pain while waiting that hour. Then there are bad hours like "We need to go back home in one hour" <--cuz Johnny's having fun. Duh. He'll still enjoy both hours, but they have different meanings. Anticipation & dread. So long as your boy can wrap his mind around 'time' solidly he'll soon figure out that an hour is an hour, or 2, 3, 4, etc.

    You and hubby can help quite a bit w/ 'temporary' by being good role models. I'll just hope that your kids hate it when daddy has to go to work "Awww daddy! But WHY do you hafta go? Pleeeease don't go!" Warms your heart, right? Hubby's job here is to consistantly inform the kiddos he doesn't want to leave, but he has to, and that it's temporary, he'll be back at 6 for dinner. And you, mommy, hafta let the kids know that you miss daddy while he's away, but it's temporary and he'll be home at 6. Ok, so that's how adults handle it - what about kids? Your boy needs to know that although daddy's at work, and mommy's busy doin' mommy stuff, the he's missed while he's at school. 'Responsibilty' is too ginormous a word to use here, but the fact is that understanding life as a series of temporary events is a huge step towards responsibilty and maturity. Growing up, in other words.

    Pointing out all the good stuff that comes with coping w/ unpleasant, temporary situations is a must. "Daddy has to go to work so we can have $ to go to the fun-center", "Mommy has to help Gramma cuz her arthritis is acting up", "Your friend Billy has to go home now because his cousins are visiting for dinner", and the classic..."You have to eat your vegetables if you want to grow up to be big and strong like daddy" Just examples, but it's good to show a child early on that everything has a price (good for bad, bad for good, it all evens out) measured in TIME.

    School particularly opens doors for the concept, think history. How many months did it take t

    Source(s): Peace...whew! have I set a record?
  • 5 years ago

    Hey man I have had panic and anxiety attacks too it can be very scary it feels like nothing is real. You have a lot going for you whether you realize it or not. Take a couple deep breaths you will be fine. Anxiety cannot hurt you and sometimes it creeps up on you without you realizing it. It can be the scariest thing in the world because your brain is hyping you up with all kinds of crazy chemicals. You can control this and there is nothing wrong with you man. Enjoy life and have fun with it. When you get that feeling say "F this anxiety I am going to ignore it and have a good time with my life." and it will go away. Have fun with this girl and relax. Whatever happens, happens. Just go with the flow if you need anymore advice or techniques/ counseling you can e-mail me. Good luck and enjoy the ride =)

  • KitKat
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    preschool is NOT mandatory in any state in the US. keep the child at home -reduce expenses so that you can raise your own child. in a year, enroll her in preschool for 2 half days. by the time kindy starts, she'll be better adjusted.

  • 1 decade ago

    Take him to school, hand him over to the teacher. Get in your car and leave. That is what my mother did. Go have a capp/latte and realize he will be fine.

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