Teaching Children to Say Goodbye

Saying goodbye is always the hardest thing to do, no matter what your age is. Whether you are a teenager saying goodbye to your friends and teachers at the end of your school year or toddler dropped off at daycare, it’s always tricky.

Most of the children face separation anxiety at one point in life. Since we cannot avoid it but can teach our children how to cope, it is crucial to teach them the ways that make saying goodbye easy for them.

Saying goodbye is not hard for the kids only; the parents feel guilty and worried when they see their children screaming and crying. Since separation and attachment have a connection, which is the greatest need of young children, it makes separation provocative for them.

The need for closeness and contact varies with the maturity level; the more immature the child is, the more they crave intimacy. The reason why young children need their relationships to work is it ensures them that they will be taken care of by someone.

Separation means the individual faces the absence of their attached figure, and the more dependent they are, the more anxiety they will face. It is their desire for closeness and contact that makes them miss their parents and caregivers when they are not present or gone. You can say that the attachment is the doorway through which separation anxiety discloses.

It is the inbuilt reaction of the young children to protest and face anxiety when they get separated from their attachment. The clutching, protest, clinging, and crying of your child are the means to draw you close. For some kids, bedtime separation can also get intensified as they move towards the final disconnection of the day.

Ways to Help Your Child to Deal with Unavoidable Separations

Child waving goodbye

To help them coping with separation does not mean not to leave them; it means teaching them how they can deal with it. The presence of an unseeable attachment matrix around the children helps them grow best. It is best to provide the alternative adult attachment when the separation is mandatory from their closest attachments.

To teach your children not to feel comfortable with strangers is another challenge. The right attachment establishes when the child knows to shy away from the people they do not know. It will ensure the safety of the child as well.

So, the real question is what you can do to help your child reducing separation anxiety. We have come up with a few ways that can be useful for you and your child.

  • Develop Growth by Deepening Connection

Growing your child into an independent functioning individual is one of the best aspirations for separation anxiety. It takes a lot of time for young children to get there, but once they reach that point, it aids to good development. You cannot push a child to grow up, but with a generous provision of care, you can take them there.

By taking care of the need of your children, provide them with the idea that you are trustworthy and can take care of them. Providing room for your children to grow free from interruptions like peers, technology, and structured activities can help them become a separate being and explore their world.

  • Bridge the Distance

The term “goodbye” represents separation or parting. But in several languages, it means “until we meet again.” It would be great if you teach your children its meaning when goodbyes are mandatory. Try to help your child face his fears until the next point of attachment; it will reduce the separation anxiety.

Tell your child when you will be back and how you both will spend your time together after returning. By doing so will make the child hold onto the next time of closeness and contact, rather than distance. Leaving little notes to read and giving a locket with the photo of a loved one can help the child feel close and secure.

You can use several other items like a unique rock or a keychain to bridge the distance. As long as the child associates it with their loved ones, it will work.

  • Introduce and Familiarize Children to Their Caretakers

The parents play a vital role in developing and strengthening the relationship between their children and new teacher or caretaker. The parents work on creating the conditions for the care provider and children to like and know each other better. They do this by giving the introduction of the care provider and then point out the similarities in activities and interests.

When the child sees the friendly and warm behavior of his parents towards the care provider, his attachment instincts start to accept the new individual as a part of his world.

  • Help the Child Find His Tears of Missing

You may find it odd that having sad tears about missing the loved ones is one of the answers to separation anxiety. It is a common belief that upset and tears are the sign that something is not right for your child. Whereas, crying and feeling sad are the most natural emotions for a child when they face the things and situations they cannot hold onto or change.

Having someone there with the child to collect his tears helps them communicate the sadness they have inside. Stopping a child from crying or telling him not to worry when he is missing someone further reduces the sense and feeling that a caretaker can look after him.

Tears of upset are natural and a good sign that shows the child is comfortable with his new relationship with the care provider and surroundings.

Ways to Make Goodbyes Easier

Following are some ways that can help prepare your child for goodbyes:

  • If you are taking your child to a new place away from the house, bringing his favorite toy or blanket can help in easing his uneasy feeling.
  • Teach your child what will happen when you are not around, tell him what he should expect.
  • Tell your child when you will come back; use the time frame that he understands.
  • Do not just disappear; instead, tell your child that you are going. It will not only develop the security your child needs but also makes the goodbyes much easier in the long term.
  • Since the long goodbyes are the hard ones, always keep your goodbyes short with quick hugs and kisses.
  • Following a routine helps your child feel secure and gives him an idea of what to expect. Try to say goodbye, in the same way, each time before leaving. Practice it daily.
  • If, because of any issue you get late or any plan changes, inform your child on call. It will stop him from worrying and thinking that you will not return. Staying in touch builds and strengthens trust.

Things to Do When You Come Back

It should be a good experience coming back to your kid. You can make it a crucial part of learning to say goodbye by using the following ways:

  • Share with your children what happened when you were not together. This will make them feel that they were not alone throughout the lonely time.
  • Ask about how the time of your child went from his caregiver. The finding of what he did while you were not there will help you talk to your child about it.
  • After returning home, give your child some extra attention for at least a few minutes.
  • Do not get surprised or worried if your kid ignores you. It may be because he is still angry that you left for such a long time. After all, he is still in the phase of learning about saying goodbye.

Ideas on What to Do For Long Separations

There may be times when the separation will be difficult for both; you and your child. Sometimes you have to leave your child for several days or weeks. To make these long separations easier, you can try these ideas:

  • Before leaving, give your child some photos of the family members to look when he misses you while you are away.
  • Leaving parents’ t-shirt or sweater right next to the child is also a great idea because sometimes having a familiar item comforts the child.
  • When you are away, call your child to check on him. But you must know that hearing your voice may upset him.
  • Record the favorite stories of your child, so he can listen to it while you are away.

Final Words

Teaching your children saying goodbye is not an easy task, but with the help and guide of their parents, they can learn quickly. All you have to do is develop trust and build your relationship with them.