As a preschool teacher and a mom I’ve observed many school drop-offs. Some easy, some hard, some tearful, some excited, and everything in between. Here are my 5 steps for saying goodbye that will ease separation anxiety and boost confidence.
First things first, I want you to leave your worries at home. Your child can sense your unease, so before you get in the car to head to school, walk to the bus stop, or prepare for carpool pickup, take some deep breaths, collect yourself, and put on your best poker face if you’re feeling anxious. If you are a nervous wreck, fake it til you make it. That’s honestly the best advice I’ve ever gotten and it’s useful for just about every life experience. Now, onto the actual goodbye…
Help your child put his or her things away.
Scan the room for a friend, a fun activity your child might enjoy, or find the teacher if you need to do a hand off.
Give a big hug and kiss. Do a special handshake or high five. Whatever you guys like to do.
Make eye contact and lovingly and confidently say, “I love you. I’ll be back at pick up time. I always come back. Bye bye!” (or indicate who will be picking up so your child and the teachers know)
Walk straight out the door. Do not look back. Do not linger. GO.
Please, oh please, do not sneak out. It is very scary for a child. I know it might seem easier to engage them in play and then slowly back out of the room, but it will create or prolong separation anxiety. It’s okay for your child to cry when you leave. Partner with his/her teacher and make a strong plan. Follow the steps above. You can do it!
Back to School Tip: My 5 Step Goodbye Ritual