It is not always easy to say good-bye to your child. Some children handle separation better than others. Actually, some parents handle it much better than others.
This, however, is an important learning time for both of you. Here are a few things that will make “bye-bye” better and easier.
1. Make the coming and going as regular as you can. This gives your young child a chance to practice being away from you and you also get some practice.
2. Know that your child will be fine and will make a successful transition. This builds trust. He is learning that you will come back and you are learning that he will be fine.
3. Develop a regular routine for saying good-bye. The ritual you make of saying good-bye can be very reassuring to him. It is far better than sneaking out without saying bye.
4. Leave something of yourself. If your child is very young, sometimes leaving a shirt or something with your scent helps him get through the day. As he grows older, he may like a plastic-coated photograph that he can carry with him. Many times a note or just a written line can be helpful. Funny little things to say you will be back such as “Bye-bye, Butterfly. Gotta go, Buffalo. Take care, Polar Bear. See you soon, Baboon. Chop chop, Lollypop. Give a hug, Lady Bug.” These things can be especially helpful if your child is having trouble with separation.
5. Stick with your regular caregivers because he is used to them. Be careful not to change caregivers when there are other things changing in his life.
6. Leave when you say you are leaving. Do not stick around to handle crying. He then learns to cry to keep you there.
Saying goodbye to your child is possible without tears. A few, happy tips about goodbyes can turn the incident from tears to giggles, grins and smiles!
Tips for goodbyes
Many moms have a difficult time saying good-bye. Make leaving as painless as possible. Understand your own hesitations so you don’t make the situation difficult for your child.
Come up with a personal handshake only reserved for goodbyes.
Make this a special kind of good-bye. Think of something unique and only share it with your kids; it’s your special good-bye connection!
Share something you have written or drawn.
Draw a picture on a half sheet of paper. Have your child draw a picture on one side and then write your child a note on the other side. Maybe adding a few pictures, stickers etc. might help. Fold the note or picture small enough to fit in your child’s pocket so he can easily look at it through the day.
Give a “Kissing Hand.”
Kiss your child’s palm and then have him close up his hand to keep the kiss you have given him. When he misses you, tell him he can put your kiss on his face any time he wants it.
Bring home something special.
It doesn’t have to be anything big but just a surprise. Tell your child you will be bringing something home for him so he can be excited about it.
Put some planning ahead of time into how to make “bye-bye” go smoothly. You can make this a special time and something your child will enjoy rather than dread. Your child is worth the effort to make a plan that will work and so are you.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.