Oh my sweetie pie had so much separation anxiety when I started taking her to pre-school 4 years ago. Our daughter's very first and wonderful teacher had me bring her to class 10 minutes after school drop-off ended because she was so sensitive. This late drop off idea was a win-win situation for us and the teacher because my daughter couldn't handle all the good-bye crying and had a hard time recovering for the rest of the day. Ideas like this are the reason I love teachers.
The stubborn anxiety has come and gone through the years and there have been two more suggestions by the professionals that have helped us the most. The first one is from my awesome counselor and psychologist Dr. Beth Fowler. She gave a great talk titled "Securely Attached or Attached at the Hip?" at our school 2 years ago. She suggested giving your child a Hero Team and so I did.
After school, the same day as the talk, I excitedly told my 3 year old (almost 4) daughter I had a gift for her. I brought her over to an open area and motioned to an imaginary team like I was Vanna White and said, "This is your Hero Team! They are here for you and with you when ever you need them. They will come with you to school and help you when you feel sad. They understand how you feel and they are on your team!"
Then I introduced her to each imaginary team member. "Lilly this is Jesus, Jesus this is Lilly. Rapunzel this is Lilly, Lilly this is Rapunzel. Dora this is Lilly, Lilly this is Dora. Woody and Buzz this is Lilly." I was going to give her a team of 5 but she didn't let me stop, she needed Rapunzel's horse Maximus and Woody's Bullseye, then we needed Flynn Ryder and Ariel... This was an All-Star Hero Team and it was very successful for us!
Sometimes we would send a few members of the team ahead of us to check out the classroom and to wait for her. Sometimes she'd tell me on the way to school that Buzz was flying above the car and that Woody and Bullseye were riding beside the car. The other day we were out to eat for an early dinner, we hadn't spoken of the team in months, there were three open tables near us and she told me her Hero Team was there! And on the first day of Kindergarten, before I said good-bye to her, I was trying to leave with a few reassuring words and reminded her of her Hero Team. She started to stop me and tell me that she didn't need them but then she changed her mind. :) I asked her where the team was for the second day of school and she said they stayed home. Thank you Dr. Fowler for our Hero Team, tell it to your neighbor!
The next suggestion you may have heard about but if you haven't, you must tell it to your neighbor! The same teacher I spoke about above told us about The Kissing Hand. It's a story about a raccoon having a hard time going to night school and his mommy gives him a kissing hand that is always with him. This sweet story has been very helpful for both of my kids, they even like to look at it on the way to school. And our babysitter says our 3 year old baby boy holds the kiss to his cheek when he's missing us at bedtime. So sweet! I've seen the book at Target but the website says it's only available online.
These wonderful ideas: Late drop-off, The Hero Team and The Kissing Hand, what would we do without the thoughtful professionals who share them with us! I'm so thankful for them! Please pass this post along to anyone who has a kiddo missing someone at school and please share any ideas that have worked for you or someone you know, we can all benefit!