Calming Activities for Preschoolers with Separation Anxiety

a digital art of a mother and a preschool child having separation anxiety
Table of Contents

Being a little adventurer in a big world can be exciting, but sometimes, it can also be scary, especially for our precious preschoolers. Separation anxiety, a natural developmental stage where little ones worry about being apart from their loved ones, can leave them feeling anxious and overwhelmed. While this is a normal part of growing up, witnessing their distress can be tough for parents and caregivers.

But fear not, fellow adventurers! By incorporating simple and engaging activities into your routines, you can help equip your little explorer with the tools they need to manage their anxieties and navigate separations with confidence. So, let’s embark on a journey of discovery, exploring 5 fun and effective calming activities to soothe worried hearts and foster secure attachments.

Related Reading: Social Anxiety in 8-10-Year-Old Children: Recognize and Support

1. Create a Safe Haven: The Power of Sensory Play

Imagine a cozy nook filled with soft blankets, calming music, and soothing textures. This sensory haven can be your child’s go-to spot when anxiety creeps in. Fill it with gentle, calming textures like fluffy play dough, silky scarves, or a weighted blanket. Play relaxing music or nature sounds, and incorporate calming scents like lavender essential oil (diffused, not directly applied). Engage in activities like building sensory bottles with glittery water or creating calming art with sand, paint, or play dough. These activities provide comforting sensory input, promoting relaxation and self-regulation.

Related Reading: Why is Play Important in Early Childhood Education?

2. Breathe Deep, Little Explorer: Mastering the Art of Relaxation

Deep breathing is a superhero power accessible to everyone, even tiny superheroes in training! Introduce your child to fun and engaging breathing exercises through playful activities. Imagine blowing fluffy dandelions or pretending to be little boats moving with the waves of their breath. You can even create breath cards with fun characters or colorful drawings to guide them through different breathing rhythms. Remember, practice makes perfect, so incorporate these exercises into everyday routines like bedtime or morning wake-ups, making them a natural part of their daily flow.

3. Story Time Adventures: Embracing Empathy and Understanding

Books have the power to transport us to different worlds, and for anxious preschoolers, they can be powerful tools for understanding and managing their emotions. Choose age-appropriate books that deal with separation anxiety or similar themes. Read together, discussing the characters’ feelings and how they cope with being apart from loved ones. Encourage your child to share their own feelings and create stories together, weaving in positive coping mechanisms and happy endings.

Related Reading: Influence of Reading to Children on Early Language Development

4. Playful Partnerships: Building Security Through Connection

Remember, you’re not in this adventure alone! Playing together provides opportunities for connection and reassurance. Engage in pretend play where you’re explorers going on exciting adventures together, always returning to a safe base camp (home). Create “goodbye rituals” like high fives, secret handshakes, or silly songs to mark separations and ensure your child knows you’ll be back. Additionally, involve them in preparing for separations, packing their favorite comfort toy or having them choose an activity to do while you’re away.

5. Practice Makes Perfect: Gradual Exposures and Positive Reinforcement

Conquering anxieties often involves taking small, manageable steps. Introduce gradual exposures to situations that trigger separation anxiety, starting with short and positive experiences. For example, let your child practice being away from you for brief periods with a trusted caregiver, gradually increasing the duration as they gain confidence. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, with positive reinforcement and encouragement. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the goal.

Additional Tips for Calming Worries:

  • Listen and validate: Let your child know their feelings are valid and offer reassurance and support.
  • Maintain routines: Predictable routines provide a sense of stability and security.
  • Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can heighten anxiety. Encourage outdoor play and physical activity.
  • Seek professional help: If anxieties persist or interfere with daily life, consider consulting a child therapist.

By incorporating these calming activities and tips into your everyday routine, you can equip your little adventurer with the tools they need to navigate the world with confidence, knowing that even when you’re apart, your love and support are always close by. Remember, you’re on this journey together, and with patience, understanding, and a sprinkle of fun, you can help your little heart conquer even the biggest worries.

Related Reading: Best Mother-Son Bonding Activities for All Ages: Fun and Meaningful

Nefise Sh. Dogrusozlu

Nefise Sh. Dogrusozlu

Nefise is a rewarded content creator and honored master degree clinical psychologist, specializing in CBT and EMDR therapy. She is renowned for her work with children affected by natural disasters and autism.

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