3 Tips for Happier Preschool Drop-Offs

Photo credit: mettamatI'm sure you know what it's like: that horrible moment of having to peel my kid off my leg, hand him over to the nursery school teacher, and leave the room while listening to his screams of rage. It's so upsetting to me that I fight back tears as I walk to my car. I know he'll be fine - he loves nursery school - but he needs me gone in order to remember that.

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Psychotherapist and parent educator Andrea Nair has a solution for this kind of situation. She calls it 'attachment bridging.' By following a few simple steps, our kids can feel secure attachment to us when we're away, reducing the number of times we drop them off to the sound of wails. Nair writes, "An attachment bridge is using some form of object or words to connect the time you are together over the time you are apart, to the next time you are together again." It's important to choose an attachment bridge that doesn't increase the child's anxiety about being away from the parent; it should maintain it.

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These are the three attachment bridging ideas that Nair suggests:

Make morning connection time a priority. Spend time sitting and cuddling with your child on the sofa in the morning. When he/she gets up to play, you'll know his 'attachment tank' is full. Often, if neediness goes unaddressed in the morning, it spells disaster for the rest of the day.

Leave a note in their lunchbox with a comment about the next time you'll see them. Nair suggests writing banana notes, which are a fun idea. Scratch a message into the skin of a banana with a fine-tipped tool and it will go from invisible to dark over the course of the day.

Let the child pick an object of yours to take with them. Make a point of filling the object with your love in front of your child and then tell him/her that they can rub it to get the love out when they're missing you.

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The key to bridging is making sure your child knows when they'll see you next. An older child can understand a specific hour, while a younger one may need a point of reference, i.e. "Just after circle time." Hopefully, by trying to implement an attachment bridge, you'll have fewer unhappy drop-offs for both parent and child.

Katherine Martinko blogs at Feisty Red Hair.

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