Keep your cool on first day of school

Durban - It’s normal for your young child to feel anxious when you say goodbye. However, the pain of separation generally becomes more manageable as a child gets older. But in a minority of cases, the anxiety persists despite the parents’ best efforts. This makes it difficult for the child to adjust to school. If the anxiety lasts for weeks rather than days, it may indicate a deeper problem called separation anxiety disorder.

Now that a new school year is about to begin, it is important for parents and teachers to distinguish between the two conditions.

Reassurance can help settle your child when you leave him at school on the first day. Credit:

Dealing with separation anxiety in its milder form

These suggestions often do the trick and most kids soon settle down and become successful learners.

Separation anxiety disorder

Separation anxiety disorder, however, is more serious. The child shows a worrying degree of distress and is particularly difficult to console when he is away from his primary caregiver.

However, since both forms of anxiety share many of the same symptoms, it can be confusing when trying to decide if your child just needs time, patience and understanding, or whether he has a more serious problem that may need professional intervention.

Some signs of separation anxiety disorder

These behaviours could be triggered by changes in the environment like moving to a new home or school, or the loss of a loved one (or pet).

Some children feed off the anxieties of an overprotective parent.

Professional treatment for separation anxiety disorder may include psychotherapy, play therapy, family counselling and, if required, medication.