What is separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a normal part of development; children are leaving their trusted environment (that being their home) and are entering into an unfamiliar environment where they have to build up new trust.  Children will have a sense of loneliness, anxiety, or nervousness, facing the unknown.

Children may feel all these when starting at a centre when:

  • with adults who they are not familiar with
  • meeting more children than they would normally have at their home.

How children react?

Some children cry when their parents leave, some become very quiet, some may cry on and off during the day until they become familiar with their surroundings.

How can we help ease separation anxiety?

  • If you can visit the centre for a short period before your child starts at the centre, this shows the child that you trust the environment.
  • Speak to the staff on arrival to let them know how your child’s night has been or how the weekend went. This gives staff something familiar to relate to your child with.
  • Give your child and staff a clear idea when you will be returning, i.e. afternoon tea time.
  • Always say goodbye to your child, try not to sneak out as children often become distressed trying to find where you have gone.
  • If you are feeling worried, ring the centre and speak to a staff member working with your child.
  • If possible, try to have short visits the first few days your child is attending the centre i./e. half a day on the first day, then increase the hours your child is left with us over the next visits.

How long will it last?

Some children cry for a short time, some will cry for longer periods. All children are individuals and it depends on their backgrounds, i.e. it depends whether your child has ever been away from their parents, whether they have been in care before or if they have any siblings. Be patient, it’s hard but you will all become comfortable in the centre’s surroundings. If you have any concerns, please talk to a staff member.