When it's time for your older child to go back to school, your toddler or preschooler may go through separation anxiety. Here are a few tips on how to keep your little one happy even when his built-in playmate is off to school.
Keeping your little one entertained
Play, vacations and constant companionship come to an end as late summer brings on back-to-school preparation for you and your kids. If you also have a younger child at home, you might want to keep her in mind when Big Brother goes to school. Here are a few ways to ease your little one's transition when her older siblings return to classes.
Many stores get in on back-to-school sales action, so you can stock up on your preschooler's art supplies while you're buying your older child's binders and notebook paper. Fill your cart with inexpensive crayons, glue sticks and notebooks, and your younger child will be thrilled. You can even find her a small backpack so she feels like a big kid.
Celebrate the big day
On the first day of school, make it a big deal for everyone. Take your school-aged child's first-day-of-school photo, but don't leave out Little Brother — he may enjoy wearing special clothes and his backpack, too. Make their favorite breakfast and go somewhere special after Big Sister climbs on the bus or gets dropped off at her school's front door.
When your older child was home, it was likely easier to keep busy and moving. But now that your toddler's older playmate is away all day, you may have to plan ahead to keep him busy. Pack a lunch for your little one and go somewhere to eat it during lunch. Go to story hour at the library, plan crafts to do in the afternoon and schedule playdates with your friends and their kids. If your child is really close to school age, have "school" for him, too — buy workbooks and sit down with him to work on reading or math every day.
If your younger kiddo shows signs of sadness at his sibling's departure, take the time to really listen to his concerns. Don't dismiss his feelings, even though you may be tempted to simply distract him. He needs to know that you're there for him and that it's safe to talk to you about what he is going through. Reassure your little one that Big Brother will return at the end of the day and that you have your own fun day planned.
With these few tips in mind, and by staying in tune with your preschooler's emotional needs, you can help ease her transition when her older sibling returns to his school and friends.
More on back to school