01 October 2008

Ease school dropoff anxiety with a "no miss me kiss"

Alas, preschool is behind us, and I was fortunate that neither of my children had much trouble with school dropoff. But Shawn's hack still choked me up a bit:

My daughters and I have a little ritual that helps alleviate separation anxiety when dropping off at preschool. Just before I leave, when my lipstick is usually still fresh enough, I give her a little kiss on the back of her hand. She knows that if she starts to miss me after I am gone, she can get another kiss from Mommy by just pressing the back of her hand to her cheek. It is just a little way to keep a little bit of Mommy there even after Mommy is gone.

Sometimes, we have changed it up a bit: she knows that if she thinks that I am missing her, then she can let me give her a kiss to help me. Truthfully, the lipstick is washed away long before I pick her up, but the idea gets her through the day. I started this when my oldest was two years old, and this year she started first grade. [SNIFF. -- Ed.] I thought it might be a little odd to have a lip print on her hand, so I drew a little heart on her wrist. Today, she asked for it again. She said she could see it while she was drawing, and liked to have Mommy's heart close all day.

The classic book that illustrates this idea is The Kissing Hand. A sweet, and comforting way to contextualize going off to school for a little kid. I love how the little raccoon is just waking up as the sun is setting, and his "school day" begins during the dark of night.

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That book was read to my new kindergartener's class on the first day of school, and they sent home a piece of paper inviting parents to trace their own hands on it, write in a little note or draw a picture or leave a kiss for their kids, and promised that the kids could see their own "kissing hands" (and have notes read to them) any time they felt a little lonely.

I thought it was particularly sweet -- especially since I've been giving her "special kisses" (kisses on her palms, for later use) since she was two! (It did not entirely prevent a bad 6-month stretch of separation anxiety when she was about three, but it might have helped...)

I filled a film canister with kisses for my first son for the time I was in the hospital delivering his brother. These days we put the kisses straight into our pockets if we need to save them.

Aw, cute. I do something similar with my son, who's two. When I say goodbye at daycare I give him "kisses for his pockets," and remind him that he can take one out whenever he needs one.

Interesting timing - we just got the "Kissing Hand" today in our order of Scholastic books from daycare. Wish I had it, and this idea, long ago though. My son is going through a good period of drop offs at school, but not so over a month ago when he started in the two year old room, or on and off since he was 8 months old.

He has (has had) pictures of us to look at, and I talk about how I have lots of pictures of him on my desk at work and think about him all day long. We sing the Hap Palmer song "Mommy Comes Back", and have the book "Mama Always Comes Home to You" (and we adapt these for Dad too).

My daughter came home with a "hand" to paste a photo of our family to the palm. They read "the Kissing Hand" this week. Cute book.

This is so sweet. I will try it.

My son's teacher sent a letter to every child telling them she was looking forward to meeting them and that the first day she would be reading the Kissing Hand. She enclosed a heart sticker so the parents could kiss them on the hand in the morning, then apply the sticker and then she would be looking out for 'heart kids' in the school yard.

It was great for the kids, because they got to find others who were going to be in their class before school even started and great for the teacher, because she could wander the yard and say hello one on one with the child's parent still there for comfort!

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