Early Education Center (EEC)
Hello Highlands Community!
Let’s talk about goodbyes! If you are a parent or caretaker to any child, you have probably all experienced your child having a giant, anxiety ridden meltdown as you try and say goodbye. Whether it’s the fact that you are trying to get out the door quickly, dropping them off at school, or feeling completely guilty about how upset they are, we have one piece of advice to give: do not linger! Take it from us (early childhood educators) who have gone through this hundreds of times over the years, no matter how hard it is and how upset they are, lingering around until they “calm down” or coming back because they are so upset, just makes the next goodbye even harder because they will get louder and more upset in hopes that you will come back again. Here are some tips that can help prevent these goodbye meltdowns:
· Routines- We’ve talked about this before in another newsletter. Routines help children understand what’s coming next and they will be able to mentally prepare for what will happen. Refer to the October edition of the EEC Newsletter for helpful tips on how to establish routines!
· Practice goodbyes! Every time you leave, have a routine that will signal for a child that you are leaving. Giving one giant squeeze and a kiss every single time you leave them, or 5 high fives and a kiss, will help establish a routine and create a ritual that will calm their worries.
· Take a note from Daniel Tiger: “Grown-ups come back!” – Tell them you are going to be back. If you tell them every single time and pair it with your goodbye routine, they will learn that you do in fact always come back.
· Try and regulate your own emotions- We know how hard it is to leave your child when they are so upset but do your best to plaster a big smile on your face, remain calm and control your emotions. Children pick up on your moods and emotions very easily and will mimic what they are feeling from you. If you show hesitation or panic, it signals to your child that something is wrong and the person they are being left with is not to be trusted.
· Do not leave without saying goodbye. You may think that leaving without them seeing you go is helpful, but it creates distrust and makes them unsure of when or if you will return.
· Trust your caregivers- do research on the type of care that you want and “interview” preschools or caregivers. Most people who are experienced with children have their own tips and tricks to helping children with transitions and their big emotions and here at the EEC, we do our best to make parents feel as comfortable as possible when leaving their precious babies in our care. Before a child starts with us, we send out tips and tricks for transitions to the families. We also schedule visits for the families and children and work with the families to establish a transition process, especially for children who are entering care for the first time. We always contact parents once the child has calmed down just to assure them that they are doing ok.
· Trust your gut- You know your child best and if your child is still extremely upset at drop offs or goodbyes after month or so, the care provider might not be the best fit for your child.
Here at the EEC, our preschool rooms have a “Hello/Goodbye Window”. When parents drop off their children, we invite them to go to the window and wave, do silly dances or make silly faces, etc. This is another way to establish a routine and give the children an opportunity to understand, process and know that it’s time to say goodbye. We also have children bring in family pictures that we laminate and Velcro to the wall so children can grab them at any point throughout the day. Each classroom has a calming area where children can retreat to when they need time alone. We also have a “feel better bin” full of comfort items and sensory toys that they can interact with to help regulate their emotions. As educators, we are passionate about creating a nurturing environment where children feel safe and secure, because without that, they will not have the confidence to explore and learn. We hope this information helped! Below are some websites with more detail of what we talked about.
NAEYC - Help Children Say Goodbye
Very Well Family - The Importance of Goodbyes.
Baby Chick - How to Say Goodbye at Drop Off
Respectful Mom - How to Confidently Say Goodbye
Take care and enjoy your summer!
Kristen Lein, Early Education Director