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Smart Separation

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So the day has finally arrived and it's time for you to face it, school's in and there is a peg with your child's name on it at their new school.

For many mums this is a day they have been hoping to avoid since they held their new born, trying avidly to put the breaks on birthdays and to ignore the inevitable arrival of the first day of primary school; the beginning of a fourteen year stretch where mums are no longer the centre of their child's universe and where for several hours every day their most precious possession is at the hands of others will.

Whilst some kids simply breeze through the experience kissing their mothers goodbye before skipping happily into their educational destiny whilst Mum pops off to do the shopping glad of a few hours to herself, for others the case isn't quite so rose coloured.

Many mums feel bereft at even the prospect (let alone the actuality) of leaving their children in the albeit capable hands of educators. Some mums find saying goodbye an overwhelming experience where they spend time before, during and after torturing themselves with images of their darling child stood alone crying in a playground full of happy children. In fact in some scenarios it's the mum and not the child who is really the one dealing with separation anxiety.
Whilst for other mums there is a 'somewhere in-between' area they fall into, most of us (including myself) can empathise with the transition of our child into school life.

So how can we reduce these difficult feelings and in doing so ensure that our children have the best start to their school lives.

Firstly its essential to remember that children learn what they live, so if you are wandering around sobbing into your coffee from the moment you wake up to the minute you solemnly arrive at the school gates, don't expect a great goodbye. Children are excellent empathisers, they will know that you are unhappy and stressed and their behaviour will most likely reflect your emotional state and that's a bad thing as you want your child forge a positive mental link with that first day experience.

Separation anxiety in mums tends to occur because of unrealistic rumination's, tied in with a sense of genuine loss. We allow our negative thoughts to take over and often begin to feel that we are losing a part of our lives and of our child without feeling any level of control over the situation. These feelings manifest in a sense of impending dread or panic and can really affect
our happiness.

So what to do? Firstly reframe the situation at hand, do this by looking at your child's departure as just another day in their lives, a day filled with play, interesting new activities and new friendships.

The days before they start school, make sure that you take a few trips to their new school making sure you point out that this is where they will be going and doing it in the jolliest of manners. Try to engage your child in selecting their bag and school uniform in the weeks leading to their first day, this is psychologically preparing you and your child for their journey into independence.

The night before they start school, make sure that you have a relaxing evening doing something fun as a family, and ensure that before you go to sleep you have a hot bath, pamper yourself.

The best way of approaching that first day is with a realistic mindset. Your child is going to a safe place where they will be looked after and cared for by people who have their best interests at heart.

There are 24 hours in a day and let's face it school only lasts for a quarter of that time, and think about all the jobs you can get done, or the quality time too can spend with remaining siblings.

Reframe the idea of losing your child with a recognition that you are developing them; become excited by their possibilities.

Remind yourself that you and everyone of your friends survived school and observe the many happy children running around the yard; this will soon be your child.

When my children started school I realised it was my fear that was greater than the reality, I reflected on how I had loved primary school and I realised that the fears I had were more about my own selfish need to be the most important person in my sons lives. Fortunately I was able to plaster a smile on my face and accept change and in doing so ensure that my boys school starts were positive ones. I also was given the gift of time and because of this i have been able to get to know myself better.

So get smart with your separation anxiety, there is far more to gain in sending your child to school and that can only be a great big positive!

For more information watch our video with Dr Hilary Jones and I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoqzw7b5EOg&feature=player_embedded