Separation Anxiety Affects Child, Parents

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Aug. 17 (UPI) — Separation anxiety may affect both U.S. children and their parents on the first day of school, a professor of counseling says.

Samuel T. Gladding, professor of counseling at Wake Forest University and author of the book “Family Therapy,” says not being well-prepared for the separation makes anxiety worse.

Gladding offers parents tips for how to avoid emotional scenes with children clinging tearfully to them when it is time to say goodbye at the classroom door:

  • Role play with the child on leaving and returning before the big day arrives.
  • Long before school starts, encourage more social children to include your child in their play and provide reinforcement for getting involved in activities.
  • Use pretend exercises. The parent asks the child to pretend how a child Superman or Wonder Woman would act when going to school.
  • Introduce the child to teachers and other children in the class to help him feel more secure in the new environment.
  • If parents are feeling anxious, avoid communicating this distress to the child. Parents can use the pretend technique, too.
  • As a parent, model appropriate first-day behavior and get the child to imitate the model behavior.

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