Minimising Anxiety in Your Child



Summer is in full swing and we hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends and enjoyed some downtime.

This time of year see’s many of us starting new things including for our children. They may be starting early education and care for the first time or moving to a new service or even changing rooms from the babies to the toddlers room.

For parents and caregivers the most daunting adjustment can be the anxiety of being apart for the first time or worrying about how your child will cope through this change. Separation anxiety is common although easily addressed with a positive outlook and a few expert tips from professional educators, to help you reduce your nerves.

This change can be as challenging for the child as the grown-ups involved. You may find that you both have an unexpected, emotional response. For this reason, it’s important to focus on the benefits so that all parties can quickly transition into a healthy, happy routine.

Belinda Ludlow

“Life is full of changes – big and small, significant and insignificant. How we approach and cope with changes depends, to a large extent, on the experiences of our early years. The foundation of confidence and willingness to try things are built right from the start.”



  1. Become familiar: Familiarise your child with the new environment in advance. Pre-plan a visit for your child where he or she can meet the educators and experience the environment, themselves. Talking with educators about what your child will be doing, in advance, will build your confidence. If possible, driving past the location, pointing it out to your child and discussing it, will make the space feel safe, so that your child can look forward to this new milestone, minimising their anxiety and developing their understanding of the upcoming change.
  2. Always be prepared works for boy scouts, and boy, it will work for you! Organisation and preparation is key to minimising rush on the morning of your child’s first day. Children are sensitive to the stress of adults, so the more organised you are, the more seamless you can make morning drop-offs. Prepare their backpack the night before, plan or lay out their clothes, and have a routine already in mind to get you from A to B, to make the morning stress-free for you both.
  3. Something borrowed to prevent the blues: remembering to pack a special, transitional object (like a favourite toy, photo or blanket) for your child to bring along, helps them feel secure during the first stage. Photos of them on your desk or in your wallet, to take with you, will also help ease the separation.
  4. Keep calm, and say goodbye. It may be tough, and there can be the temptation to sneak off, but a calm goodbye with a kiss and cuddle at drop-off, even if your little one is in tears, is what experts recommend. Assuring them that you will be back later and avoiding a drawn-out goodbye makes it easier for you both to get on with the rest of the day. Maintain your trust in the professionals you have chosen for your child. They will acknowledge and comfort him or her individually, supporting them to settle in and begin to explore new experiences and friends.
  5. Debrief and discuss: Educators will be happy to share with you an update from your child’s day on pick-up. It’s important to continue the conversation with the child, asking questions about their day and learning about their feelings as they embark on this new phase. Positive chats will help your child adjust and understand the experience, while making you feel involved in their development.

Every child and family is unique, so communication is the most effective way to navigate this milestone and address any lingering or emerging anxieties. This experience is new, but it can be exciting, and needs to be nurtured with the positive attention that it deserves.

Talk honestly with each other within the home, and draw on the support of the educators, who are highly experienced with the challenges of families and children encountering new routines. As you work together with your early childhood service, you will feel informed and empowered by the experience, so that you can be the best support to your child as they grow and adjust.

When we feel safe, we explore, we learn, we grow.

Kids Matter, Australian Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative