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How to ease back-to-school separation anxiety

Posted at 9:09 AM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 10:09:28-04

TULSA — Most parents know, going back-to-school can bring up some mixed emotions, like excitement or nervousness.

But for kids starting school for the first time, separation anxiety is a real concern.

4-year-old Vivian is ready to make new friends, and show off some of her back-to-school gear when she starts kindergarden this week.

"It says my name," Vivian says.

But her mom, Priya, knows the big jump from preschool to kindergarden can be tough on a kid.

"She's been home with me the last two years, it's just been us during the day so it'll be a big transition," Priya says. Increased work load, longer days, and more time away from mom and dad.

Priya's been through it before with her son. She learned then that confidence can be contagious.

"What really worked is I wouldn't linger when I said goodbye. I said 'have a great day I can't wait for you to tell me about it' and then I would leave," Priya says.

Dr. Beth Creel is a children's behavioral health specialist.

"A lot of times children will get very anxious because they have no control in going to school the first day," Dr. Creel says.

She says Priya is right. Kids can pick up on our emotions, so try to keep a level head.

"If they can balance their fear and worry with incredible enthusiasm I think it's a great start," Dr. Creel says.

To ease seperation anxiety, Dr. Creel suggests sneaking a family picture or sweet note into your child's backpack or lunch box.

"There is still that connection and mommy and daddy aren't going anywhere," Dr. Creel says.

When at home, open communication is crucia but sometimes what your child doesn't say is more telling.

"It's sometimes a red flag, why don't they want they want to talk about that? They want to talk about this, but they don't want to touch that, and so that's something parents also have to keep in mind," Dr. Creel says.

For older kids, homework can be a daunting task.

So if a child is overwhelmed Dr. Creel suggests you set up your kid's personal workspace somewhere in the home, where they can be distraction free and organized.

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