Back-to-School: Curb the Goodbye Blues
Tips for Alleviating Seperation Anxiety by Randi Goldfarb
We often hear the refrain “…but my child won’t let me leave!!” The truth is, it really is not the child’s choice in this case! Adults have a great opportunity to be a guide for children for making goodbyes short and still sweet! Being proactive and creating effective strategies to manage separation can empower children to feel competent, help them develop emotional awareness, build greater capacity for self-control and further independence.
While school can be a significant time where separation anxiety shows up, it is certainly not the only venue! For example, when a young child is put down in her crib for a nap, she starts to cry, reaching her arms up to the caregiver. On your way to the bathroom, your toddler runs after you, grasping your legs, carrying on. A friend or family member wants to hold your baby and he pulls away, in resistance and reaches out to you. A babysitter arrives to watch your child and your child becomes visibly distraught, and then his behavior evolves into a full- blown tantrum. Your child is resisting your departure when dropped off at a birthday party or playdate.
When adults are proactive, practicing separation strategies in advance, both adults and children will have more confidence when saying goodbye, thus alleviating separation anxiety. Being patient is important because a child’s behavior can often be inconsistent and can also be affected by life changes. Separation and goodbyes do not need to be full of drama. The less intensity that occurs between you and your child at drop-off, the better it is for all those involved. The calmer you are, the quicker your child can get started with the school day, ready to participate and have fun.
Here are a few tips for smoother separations:
- Approach these situations in a loving, kind, yet firm manner, despite the emotional commotion occurring. Share with your child that everyone can have a great day even when missing one another!
- Acknowledge and share your own feelings about separation in an age appropriate manner. This can help normalize your child’s experience with saying goodbye.
- Convey matter-of-factly and with confidence to your child that although goodbyes can be challenging, you can (eventually!) manage them well with minimal distress for all involved.
- It is very important to communicate with your child’s teachers about separation prior to the beginning of school.
- Cultivate trust by always telling your child you are leaving. Do not prolong/drag out goodbyes, regardless of whether your child seems distressed.
- Add an element of playfulness for saying goodbyes because even goodbyes can be fun!
- Skullcap: Best used for nervous tension and anxious feelings. You can feel the calming effect within 20 minutes of taking the herb.
- Valerian: This herb is best used to treat a combination of anxiety and sadness. If your child is nervous, sad and weepy he/she may experience problems sleeping (trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much). This herb helps to calm the system, allowing your child to fall back into a normal sleep pattern.
- Fresh milky oats: The effects of this herb are not immediately felt. It may take a few weeks to work through your system, but this is the best ‘band-aid’ for the nervous system after long-term stress. Works well combined with the other two herbs mentioned above.
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Sara-Chana's Back to School Tips
Before we begin learning about our herbal allies, it is important to remember that there are a few basic and often overlooked nutrients that children need.
- The first is water: dehydration is often ignored and can make it very difficult for children to concentrate in school. To combat dehydration, be sure to send a container of purified water to school every day and encourage your child to drink it! This is an inexpensive and easy tool to help your child to stay healthy and transition well.
- The next thing is to give your child snacks that contain oats, which are high in B vitamins which help calm the central nervous system. Oatmeal for breakfast and granola bars for snacks (preferably low in sugar) is two easy and tasty options.
- Two weeks prior to the beginning of the school year and up to one month after, I would recommend giving children a good immune herbal mixture to support the immune system. Nerves, tension and anxiety can suppress the immune system, which makes children more vulnerable to the viruses and bacteria that just love to ‘hang-out’ in classrooms.
I prefer herbs to be in a tincture form, because most herbs are not potent enough in capsule form. In herbal medicine, a tinctured herb is one which is processed in either grain alcohol or glycerides. My favorite herbal companies are Herbalists & Alchemists, HerbPharm, Gaia, andHerbs of Light because they offer alcohol-free herbal combinations specifically formulated for children. You can purchase a blend called immune blends, or cold and flu blends as these blends have herbs that not only fight infection, but in times of health, stimulate the immune system.
These herbs should be given morning and evening during health and can be increased to three or four times a day if the child seems to be coming down with an illness. Moms can also take immune blends two weeks before the start of school to protect their immune systems during this stressful time.
If your child is nervous or tense about beginning the new school year try an immune blend, cold and flu blend or the herbs listed below, alone or in combination. The best part about incorporating herbs into your child’s routine is that they are safe and non-addictive. The dosage depends on your child’s age and weight, but a good rule-of-thumb to follow is three times a day (breakfast, after school and before bed).
Prevention is the key to good health. Don’t wait until your child has full-blown symptoms because it’s always more difficult to treat. Nip cold, flus and anxiety in the bud for the best possible results and optimal health.
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Back to School Tips
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