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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Hyland

A Supportive Guide for Parents and Educators about Separation Anxiety

Have you ever tried to sneak away from a kid who’s velcro’d to your leg? 


Like Mission Impossible, but with tiny hands, loud sobs, plus a touch of parental guilt... 


And with the desperation of a rock climber clinging to the edge of a cliff... being chased by a swarm of bees, a family of bears, and the looming deadline of a project they completely forgot about. 


If that sounds familiar to you, then let’s talk about how to turn those heartbreaking goodbyes into more manageable moments.  


Because believe it or not, that intense clinginess might actually be proof of a strong, healthy bond.  


Let’s unpack what separation anxiety really means and find strategies to support your child AND your sanity! 

Psychology of Dealing with Separation Anxiety 

Let us start with this key truth: 


Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development. In fact, a child who clings tightly to you and gets upset when you leave is probably expressing a deep and healthy attachment to their primary caregiver (be it parent or guardian). 


It’s understandable to feel frustrated, worried, or even guilty when faced with tears and tantrums. We all want our children to feel happy and secure. But what if those intense emotions are actually a powerful sign that you’ve done something incredibly right? 


Now, let’s be clear: Our goal isn’t to eliminate a child’s feelings of attachment... 


But rather, help them to adjust to temporary separations while maintaining that strong bond you have with them.  


Just as a child learns to walk, they can also learn to feel comfortable and confident, even when you’re not physically present.  


That way, your child can wave goodbye with a smile, knowing that you’ll be back soon. And as they grow out of their shell, they’ll be eagerly exploring their environment, making new friends, and discovering the joy of play without needing you right beside them every second.  


And, so that you can see their growing pride and independence as they learn to self-soothe and manage their emotions. This isn’t just about easing those first days; it’s about giving them invaluable skills that will help them thrive, now, and in the years to come. 



How to Prepare Your Kids for the Childcare 


A great way to think of those first days of childcare is seeing it like setting off on a big adventure.  


For some children, it’s filled with excitement and wonder. For others, the unknown can feel a bit overwhelming. Honestly not that much different for teenagers transitioning into adulthood.  


But just like any explorer out in the wilderness, they need a good map to guide their way. You can help your child feel more prepared and confident for their journey.  


The goal isn’t to prevent any nerves or sadness – those are natural reactions.  


What preparation does is give them tools to manage those big feelings and build a positive association with the new environment. This starts well before the first day at childcare.   Here are some strategies to do that: 


  • Playtime with a purpose: Engage in playful activities that mimic aspects of childcare. Set up a “play group” with other kids, have a teddy bear “daycare”, or build a blanket fort “classroom”. These scenarios will help demystify the experience.  

  • Power of Storytime: Seek out children's books about going to school/daycare. These stories provide a relatable way for children to understand what to expect and express their own feelings. Stories can show your kids that they aren’t alone, characters going through similar experiences normalise those feelings of nervousness or excitement which makes them less scary. It’s a powerful way to shift their beliefs.   

  • A Sneak Peek Adventure: If possible, schedule a brief visit to the childcare centre together. Let your child explore the play areas, meet some of the other children, and get a sense of what their new environment looks and feels like.  

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork 

You know that mental checklist you’d run to when you hand over your kid to a friend or a caregiver? “Did I pack enough snacks? Did I tell them about that weird thing they do when they’re tired?” Will they be okay without me?” It’s completely natural.  


But here’s the thing: you’re not alone in this. You and your child’s educators are a part of a team, working together to nurture your child’s growth and well-being. They’re like cheerleaders, guiding them through those first steps towards independence while celebrating each milestone along the way.  


Here’s how you can build a strong teamwork with educators: 


  • Decode Your Child’s Cues: Every child communicates differently. Share your insider knowledge: What are their unique signals of anxiety or overwhelm? A particular word, a facial expression, or a sudden clinginess? The more your caregiver understands your child’s language, the faster they can respond with comfort and support.   

  • Co-Create a Comfort Kit: Discuss what soothes your child at home. A favourite song, a special blanket, a calming bedtime routine? Sharing these strategies allows educators to replicate those familiar comforts at the centre to ease your child’s transition.   

  • Embrace Two-Way Communication: View your caregiver as a valuable partner in your child’s journey. Ask questions about their day, be open to their observations, and discuss any concerns you have. A collaborative approach builds trust, confidence, and ensures everyone is on the same page.   

Remember, you’re not alone in this. You and as well as educators are invested in your child’s happiness and well-being. By working together, you can create a smooth transition and build a solid foundation of trust for years to come.   




Remember, separation anxiety is not a sign of failure, it’s a sign that you have a deep connection with your child. 


It’s a phase most children go through, and with patience, understanding, and a collaborative approach with your childcare provider, you can navigate it successfully.  


At Centenary childcare centre, we understand the emotional journey of both parents and children during this transition. 


Our experienced educators are dedicated to creating a warm, nurturing environment where your child feels safe, secure, and loved, even when you’re not around.  


So, if you’re ready to explore how we can support your child’s unique needs and help them thrive, you can visit our website and check out the programs we offer using the link below 👇 


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