Maternity or paternity leave is over, their first year of school is coming, or simply your partner and you have decided that you want to enroll your child in a Nursery School and return to work. And that moment arrives: the beginning of the course and the dreaded Adaptation Period. This is a process that makes children suffer, but also Many parents suffer when they leave their children at school.
For this reason, below I offer you some tips that will help you cope with the process of adapting to your children's school and, in addition, I share with you a nice message that, as an educator, I would like to convey to all parents.
This first schooling will mean the child's first exit from their safe environment, the one they share with their family and that gives them comfort and attachment, and the way they resolve these first experiences of separation will mark both their schooling and the rest of future separations.
But in the Adaptation Period, not only does the child adapt, also the parents since they also suffer this separation and they have to face the wide range of feelings that this awakens. Most of the time these feelings revolve around insecurity; insecurity about whether we are doing the right thing, whether we could not have opted for another alternative, whether he is too young to go to school, whether, whether ...
And if this insecurity were not enough, the first day we go to Nursery School or School with our son, our entire castle falls apart before our eyes when suddenly the child begins to cry, grabs us, and strange hands invite us to give it to him and leave. We close the door with our purse in one hand, our hearts in another and our stomachs in our throats. We hear him cry as we walk away. Will it pass soon? Will they comfort him as he needs?
These days are usually full of feelings on the surface of both children and ours. We must give ourselves time and space to be able to work out this situation ourselves, validate our feelings and share them with someone if we wish.
In order to better cope with this adaptation process for children but also for parents, I offer you the following tips:
1. Talk to the School about how they face the Adaptation Period and if there is a possibility that you too will stay in the classroom.
There are schools that allow parents to come with the child during these first days and interact with the spaces and materials with them. This option is the one that is most recommended since in the first years of life, parents are the source of security and affection for the child and it is important that they feel our support in the face of their new conquests. In turn, being able to go to school with him the first days will make it easier for you to establish a bond with the teachers, get to know the center better, the rest of the families, etc.
2. Do not lengthen the goodbyes
If there is no possibility for you to adapt with him, the goodbyes should be short and safe. Extending the farewell will only extend possible situations of anguish over time and then both of you will be worse off.
3. Always say goodbye
Leaving when he is not looking or asking to be distracted to disappear will generate in the child a feeling of anguish and abandonment when he realizes that you are not there. Tell him that you are leaving and that you will return 'after' (eat, nap, the patio, etc.), this will help him to start anticipating your return and his anxiety level will decrease, at the same time that it will give you an extra security in yourself in the face of future separations.
4. Let the reunion be loving
When you return for him, display all your love, he needs it and he will comfort you. Ask him what he has done, how he has been, tell him what you have done, tell him that you have missed him.
5. There may be behavior changes
It is likely that during this time, the child somatizes this situation and is nervous at home, more attached than usual, it is difficult for him to sleep, he does not want to eat, etc. There is no need to be alarmed at these behaviors, always reinforce him with love, love and more love since he needs to 'recharge' on you for the time of absence.
6. Give yourself permission to express your discomfort if you feel so
Talk to someone you trust about what these separations generate in you, accepting these feelings is the first step to work out the situation. If both of you are having a very bad time, you can consider the option of taking a personal tutoring with your child's educator to explain the situation, surely from his experience he can offer you tools that help you both to better cope with the process .
But without a doubt the best advice I can give you is TRUST. And I do not mean that you trust the educators, since that is a relationship that will be woven mutually over time. Trust your child, in his possibilities, in his ability and in that he will develop his strategies and tools to cope in this new situation.
Trust that this is a conquest from the long list that he will carry out during his life, that you will be there to support him and that one day, the one you least expect it, will come in happy and will blow you a kiss, will say goodbye with a smile and you'll know that you did it together.
While that day arrives (which will come, believe me), also lean on the teachers who receive your child, those who suffer with you, believe it or not, those who see you cry and stay with their stomachs while they watch you leave broken. They are now part of your tribe and as the African proverb says: raising a child takes the entire tribe.
As an educator, many times I have seen parents who have left with their hearts broken when leaving your little ones at school for the first time. To all of them, I dedicate the following text:
Yesterday I saw you cry. You tried not to let anyone see you, but tears don't ask for permission and you couldn't help it.
I know you tried not to I know you tried to smile. You remembered all those people who tell you that they will have a great time at school, that they will make a lot of friends and that it will be good for you to separate.
But I saw you cry.
I saw how you arrived with the best of your smiles and told the love of your life that you were going to work. I watched your delicate fingers wipe her tears while you tried to suppress yours. I saw how your gaze asked for support when I approached you.
So you said goodbye and left. You looked back and saw that someone other than you was comforting your most precious treasure. And that's when I saw you cry.
Do it, cry, let go, share it with others. And when you come back to look for him, hug him tight, tell him that you missed him, ask him what he did and tell him what you did.
Why the adaptation period has no mercy and devastates the whole family even if the eye is on the child. Give yourself time and permission to work out this new situation, to feel, to trust.
And one day, when you least expect it, it will come.
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