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Displaying items by tag: separation anxiety

As a pre-school teacher and then a primary school principal, my staff and I found many creative and intelligent ways to help families overcome the heartbreaking challenges of separation anxiety. 

 The key focus in separation anxiety is in supporting the transference of trust and safety from parent to school. And this will nearly always be done by building the quality of the relationship the child experiences in the school environment.

 By increasing a child's sense of belonging and sense of connectedness at school, their willingness to stay at school and explore new challenges increases. 

This lesson gives you examples of what to do, and how to empower yourself to do that, in spite of a school that ignores your requests for support. You don't have to wait for the school to sort this out. Take charge and make it happen!

Published in P-solving

This is the question we received: My daughter is very clingy when I drop her off at school. She doesn't want me to leave her and when I do, often cries and begs me not to go. I end up sitting in the car crying myself. This has been going on for a long time now and nothing seems to be changing.

When her dad drops her off she doesn't play up. Am I doing something wrong here?

Robin answers in the following video clip:

Length:6:46 minutes

If you have a question you would like Robin to answer, then This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. here and he will look to answering it on his blog.

With Johanna enjoying her evening bath she requested I sit with her and have a conversation about the day. We shared our individual highlights and I then decided to consciously acknowledge her for the ease with which she is saying good-bye to me in the mornings before school.

Ruth: ‘’I think that it is really great that you are saying good-bye to me before school so easily and happily AND that you are finding your own place on the mat without teacher support’’.

Johanna (big smile): ‘’I know, thanks.’’

Our conversation then continued for a while before I communicated that it was time to get out the bath.

Ruth: ‘’I have put your pyjamas on the heater and they will be warm now. Would you like to get dressed next to the heater or next to the fire?"

Johanna: ‘’Great job mom’’.

Ruth (puzzled expression)

Johanna: ‘’Great job mom for putting my pyjamas on the heater.Rreally mom, I mean it and I want to get dressed next to the heater please’’.

Now it was my turn for a big smile!

Published in Praise

I have been really making a conscious effort to acknowledge my girls this week. One day when I needed to take Lucy to an appointment straight after school I asked Belinda if she would stay home with Zuki, our Domestic.

Belinda doesn’t really like being left behind and usually kicks up a bit of a fuss but she agreed in the end. I fully expected her to fall asleep but when we got back she was wide awake and had been playing happily for a couple of hours on her own.

I especially thanked her for playing so nicely while we were out and told her that I thought that was really patient of her. She said: ‘Okay, mom’, but it seemed like she was quite chuffed. What has been interesting is that in the days since then if I have to quickly pop out she has been a lot more accommodating and instead of a whole long discussion, she just says, ‘okay, but don’t be too long!’.

Published in Praise

On Monday I arrived at my children's new school 15 minutes early to pick up my boys. While I waited, I decided to read the notes from the course. Time came to fetch my boys and so all inspired from the notes, off I went.... As I approached Sammy before we had a chance to greet one another he asked:

Sammy: “Am I going to my old school to say goodbye on Wednesday?”

Me: “ yes”

Sammy: “I am not going!”

Me: “ but we have to go... We are just going to go and say goodbye, we will not stay for long”


Me: “Come on it’s the right thing to do and I have made the arrangements already so we are going.”

Sammy: “I am not going!”

Me: “SIGH”

Well that set the mood for our beautiful scenic drive home over Ou Kaapseweg. Needless to say it was like squeezing blood out of a stone to find out how the day went at school. Later on that afternoon I was preparing dinner when I had a “light bulb” moment. I realized that there was something about his old school whether it be an emotion, a person or the environment that did not make him feel good.

When he came to ask me something I sat down with him:

Me: “You know what, I think I know why you do not want to go say goodbye at your old school” , he looked at me curiously, I continued “you do not get a good feeling in your tummy when you think of your old school?”

Sammy: “yes, I don’t”

Me: “ok, now I understand. When we go I will be with you. We can take some delicious doughnuts and give your gift to your teacher, say goodbye to your class and that is all you have to do”

Sammy: “ ok”

We went to Sammy’s old school and when he arrived he got a huge wonderful welcome from all the boys. He really felt very special and was very happy to have gone to say his goodbye.

Published in Emotions
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I don't want to go to school unless...

Jason had been sick for a couple of days and had been off school. I told him that he was returning to school the next day, and he said that he didn’t want to go to school. I humoured him, and the conversation went like this:

Me: “but you wouldn’t want to miss playball tomorrow would you?”

Jason “ Oh No – I love playball.”

Me: “ Okay, we will tell your teacher that you are just coming to school for playball, and then you will come home again. But what about show and tell, are you happy to miss that?”

Jason “ Oh no, I want to go to show and tell – and playball, but come home for the other things.”

Me: “ Okay, just for playball, and show and tell, but what about story time?”

And so the conversation continued, until he wanted to be there for everything except for snack time – he decided he would pop home for snack time. We then decided that if he had something fun in his lunchbox it would also definitely be worth staying for that too. It really was a fun conversation, and Jason was laughing and very engaged as he felt very empowered.

It was a great way for him to realise that he in fact loved school, and I didn’t have to do any persuading!

Published in Emotions