Managing Emotions and Separation Distress in Young Children

By Fiona Janse van Rensburg

Separation distress in a new environment is quite common, and can be extremely unsettling for both children and their parents, when transitioning to and from an early learning centre.
It is important to remember that some distress is a normal part of the many developmental stages of child development.

If your child does experience separation distress, there are a lot of strategies both yourself and the centre’s educators can do together to manage your child’s big emotions

  • If your child has not yet commenced at the centre you have chosen, it is a good idea to visit regularly for as long as you need to, prior to commencing. This allows for not only the environment to be familiar but also an opportunity for your child and yourself to begin forming relationships and trust with peers and educators.
  • Allow your child to take a special something from home when they visit the centre. This item connects your child to their home environment and can provide a source of familiarity and comfort- especially during drop off and rest times.
  • When saying good bye to your child remember to say goodbye and remind them that you will return.
  • Try to settle your child with an enjoyable activity and a friendly face before saying goodbye and leaving. If they have formed a secure attachment to an educator, remind them that he or she will be there soon to share their day.


If you are concerned about your child’s distress please seek professional help, as early intervention is always advised.
 This can be done, through paying a visit to:           

  • A local children’s health or community health center
  • A local GP
  • A specialist child psychologist

We believe that these tips will definitely help with reducing separation anxiety at child care.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *