ELC News

Separation Anxiety in Pre-schoolers

The first days are filled with excitement, happiness, eagerness and also anxiety. It is quite common for a child to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of a new environment, teacher or setting.

Feeling separation anxiety is a developmental area which children first start to feel at around one year of age. It can often resurface when they start at childcare, preschool, kindergarten, primary school and into their high school experiences. Some kids even seem to be doing fine with their transition only to experience separation anxiety a few weeks into the school year.

Crying, clinginess and school refusal are all common with a child who is experiencing separation anxiety. Occasionally we also see regression of behaviour. For example, a toilet trained child may suddenly fail to make it to the bathroom on time. When a child is challenged by a new developmental task, they are likely to temporarily lose ground in an area already mastered.

The following are some tips that might help.

  • Stick to a routine. Children are at their best when they have plenty of rest, eat a nutritious breakfast and don’t feel rushed. Prepack lunches and snacks the night before to save time in the morning.
  • When you first arrive at school, remind your child about their daily routine jobs, such as putting their bag into their locker and washing their hands. Then assist them to settle into a favourite activity such as play dough or block play. Engage with them for a few minutes.
  • Saying Goodbye – be honest with your child and tell them that it is time for you to leave. Let them know that you will be back. Even though there may be a few tears, often when parents are out of sight children will settle happily into activities and the tears will ease.
  • It’s best to not drag out the goodbye as this often increases the separation anxiety.
  • Be positive and happy yourself. Children can sometimes sense when their parents are upset or worried and this might lead to an increase in their anxiety.
  • Be gentle on yourself, this is a big step for all parents and children. If parents hesitate, kids will pick up on their emotions and could feel unsafe. Plan a coffee date with a friend or your spouse immediately following drop off so that you have support.

Here are some stories that you might like to share with your child around separation anxiety:

https://youtu.be/dPUW1t9Gu4s The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

https://youtu.be/xLcocsqoj3o Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney


Feel free to call the School anytime to check on your child’s progress. Our staff will also call you, if your child is unable to settle. All staff at Tintern are committed to ensuring that your child has happy experiences at school.


We look forward to seeing you at the ELC Information Session, Wednesday 8 February, 7pm at the ELC Centre. You are welcome to join us for drinks following directly afterwards in the Community Hub.



Kristen de Vos | Director of Early Learning



2023 Term Dates