The Goddard School


How to Handle Separation Anxiety…

You arrive at the school to drop little Johnny off and his grip becomes tighter and tighter as you walk down the hallway to his classroom, by the time you’re in the class the grip has become a claw, and then when you set him down to try to slip away, he screams, cries, and begs for you to not go… If any part of this sounds familiar your child is struggling with the common problem of separation anxiety.  This anxiety stems from the fear of you not coming back or something happening to you while you’re gone.  So how do we let our kids know that we will return, and they are in a safe place while we’re away?  The main thing to concentrate on when leaving is the look on YOUR face, YOUR body language, and YOUR words. They need to see confidence and happiness from you to know they are safe, and that you want them in this special place where they’ll have fun! So smile (as hard as it is when you’re looking at tears), tell them where you are going (“work”), and tell them when you’ll be back.  Now kids have no sense of time as you know, so use events from their day, like lunch, nap, or “when you’re on the playground mommy will be back.” Another tip, NEVER sneak out! When they turn their head and you’re not there, they think, “she left without saying goodbye, I must not be in a safe place and she didn’t mean to leave me!”  Be sure you have time to say a proper good-bye, don’t drag it out if the tantrum becomes worse the longer you stand there… Go stand down the hall and Carol, Maria, or Butch will be happy to wait it out with you.  Have them go back to check on him and tell you when the crying has stopped so you can leave knowing your child is happy and feeling secure again.

If the separation anxiety lasts for at least 4 weeks and is causing significant daily stress for your child, I recommend looking into play therapy and ask your teacher about more techniques to try. There are lots of good books out there too to learn from.  Hang in there!

Crystal Stevenson, MA, LPC

The Frustrations of Biting

“It’s just a phase; he’ll grow out of it.”  “My kid bit too, nothing helped, she just stopped one day.”  These may be the frustrating words you’re hearing from others who are not helping your feelings of helplessness about the fact that your child has bit someone.  Biting is a developmentally appropriate way for children lacking the necessary verbal skills to express their frustrations or wants, which is why it is most commonly seen between the ages of 18 and 24 months. Although biting can be “just a phase,” there are ways to decrease the length of it and amount of occurrences. When the incident occurs, the caretaker should attend to the child who was bit first. This not only assesses the level of injury from the bite to see what medical attention is needed, but shows the child who bit the seriousness of their behavior.  This also demonstrates to them that they do not receive more attention by biting, but less actually since the other child needs it more at this moment.  It is a good idea for the child who bit to be involved in caring for the hurt child, like helping hold the ice-pack or kissing the place they bit.  Come down to eye level with the child who just bit and say, “No bite.”  Have them repeat this to you, so their mind processes those words. Tell the child that “we do not bite other people” and have them apologize.  After a child has bit once, the caretaker should be more aware that he/she may use that technique again to express feelings, and keep the closest watch and proximity possible on him/her until this “phase” has passed.  As parents we are sometimes not there to witness the behavior, and are told about it afterwards, but there are still things we can do to help and be involved.  It is a good idea to talk to your child about this behavior once you get home. Use a serious tone of voice when talking to them about biting.  Although they are not able to converse with you about what they did, they do understand your tone of voice, body language, and that you are talking about biting.  If the behavior happens more than once, it is a good idea to get a children’s book about biting to read to them, such as Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick or No Biting by Karen Katz.  If your child continues to bite, there can be other causes of this behavior, such as stress (new sibling or home), sore mouth from teething, and others.  For more information on biting and other problems you may be facing, come to the presentation I will be giving at The Goddard School on Thursday evening, April 17th. If you have a specific topic you would like to hear about, be sure to fill out your Parent Survey and return it to the office or feel free to drop a note in my box (#41).

Crystal Stevenson, MA, LPC

Read about other articles, click on the link below.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

Life Changes

Potty Training



© Copyright 2006 Crystal L. Stevenson, MA, LPC
Austin, TX (512) 796-1128