Preschool Readiness: Promoting Successful Separations, Secure Attachment and Resilience in Toddlers Transitioning to Preschool
Starting preschool is an exciting and stressful time for parents and toddlers.
While you are excited for the next stage in life, new friendships, experience, growth and development, it is also a clear rite of passage signaling that your baby is not really a baby anymore. (Okay, they will always be our babies, but they are not a "baby".) In addition, you may have been the only or primary caretaker of your child, and suddenly, that role shifts to someone outside your family that you have only met a few times.
So how do we help make our children and ourselves "preschool ready?" We recently explored the topic at our Preschool Readiness Lunch and Learn presented by Academic Achievers. Jen, their preschool specialist, shared with us her pointers to make us all deal with the transition better:
* Separation anxiety is a normal developmental behavior toddlers often have when away from mommy and daddy. We need to remember that we have had hundreds and thousands of successful separations in their young lives already(trips to the store, to work, and even to the kitchen!). We can actually get really good at providing positive, healthy, therapeutic goodbyes with practice and bravery. View each separation as an opportunity to teach your child how to part. This can be done by designing a goodbye ritual together, engaging in dramatic play and reading children's literature about separations, leaving your child with a comfort object, and never sneaking out the door.
* Attachment is the lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. A secure attachment promotes self esteem, pro-social skills, emotional literacy, resilience, trust, and empathy in people. We can have a good attachment with our toddlers and also have great good-byes. Healthy separations promote attachment, and secure attachments promote great goodbyes!
* Resilience is the capacity to achieve positive outcomes despite stress and adversity. Protective factors such as (you guessed it) a secure attachment makes kids more resilient. Other protective factors include a supportive family environment, external support systems (like quality childcare and preschool), and dispositional attributes of your child (such as temperament).
* In order to have a successful transition to school, make connections with the school, other families, your child's peers and teachers.
* Manage your own separation anxiety by picking your child up a little early (and definitely don't be late) and spend time with her immediately after school. Get organized the night before and get enough sleep. Be kind to yourself, check errands off your list, and feed your personal passion.