Handling Everyday Goodbyes

There are playful and meaningful ways to make morning drop-offs and other separations a little easier.

Separation anxiety—when a baby or young child (even into pre-k years!) feels anxious when a parent leaves their sight—is part of normal development. But when older, preschool aged children suddenly start showing signs of separation anxiety (crying when the parent leaves the room, clinging, waking up at night, or difficulty doing routine things without their parent close by), it can really catch parents off guard! 

While sudden, everyday separation anxiety might be confusing and frustrating, remember that children often show us how they’re feeling before they’re able to tell us. And, when children feel stressed, their reactions may come much later than when the triggering situation happened. 

As much as you can, observe your child’s behavior, talk with them, and try to pinpoint the true cause of their big feelings. Let them know it’s okay to have big feelings and offer reassurance and comfort often. You might also: 

  • Offer a comfort item or lovey 
  • Talk to your child about upcoming changes to routine 
  • Let your child know that you’ll be back when you go to another room or need to be apart for a time.
  • Give your child extra time to meet new people and “warm up” to new places 
  • Offer cuddles and one-on-one time 

The videos and activities below offer more ideas that may make being apart a little easier. 


“Separation Anxiety”, Stanford Children’s Health