August is officially here and back to school is just around the corner. A new school/daycare year is often a time for challenging transitions for children as they settle into a new environment. Tearful goodbyes are common when children are separated from primary adults and caregivers. Although separation anxiety is a normal part of development, it can be difficult for everyone.
Parents and caregivers can support young children’s feelings of trust and security even if they are not always present. The “kissing hand” by Audrey Penn is a wonderful book for exploring the topic of saying goodbye to a person you love. In the book, a little raccoon is nervous about being away from his mom on his first day of school. She gently kisses the palm of his hand and tells him that if he is feeling scared or lonely, he can press his palm to his cheek and feel her love with him.
This book can be read at daycare or at home to open discussions to the wide range of emotions that children might be having during a time of transition. You can use this an opportunity to talk to child/children about what the raccoons experiencing in the story, such as:
*How was the raccoon feeling when he had to leave his mother?
*What did the mommy raccoon do to help her child feel better?
* How did Chester feel after mom kissed his hand?
When children know they have the loving and supportive bond with the special adult in their lives it helps to ease these feelings of separation as they venture into the world.
After reading the kissing hand book parents/ childcare providers can create a special kissing hand craft.
Create your own kissing hand:
Parents and children can work together to create a special “kissing hand” to make times of separation easier. When children are feeling sad, scared, or lonely they can look at their “kissing hand” and think of their parent or caregiver.
-Trace your hand and your child’s hand. If you are doing this craft at a daycare a piece of paper can be sent home for parents to trace their hands.
-Cut out both hands and punch a hole for string to go through.
- Add a heart shaped sticker or other decoration that you can kiss (for durability, use thicker paper or use a laminator if accessible)
Other ideas that might help your child/a child in your care feel secure when separated:
- Brining a blanket from home
- Bringing a photo of the child with loved ones
- Bringing a favorite stuffed animal
- Bringing a scarf that has a scent
💕 Trusting relationships with parents or caregivers and positive self-esteem can be a foundation for healthy relationships with others 💕