Today I was asked to fill in for T. Tina‘s radio guesting at the DZUP 1602AM Program called Radyo Edukado.

The topic for the one-hour show was “School Jitters/ Separation Anxiety

It was a nerve-racking experience but nonetheless, I had fun answering the hosts’ questions as well as the phone-in ones.

Allow me to run through some of my favorite questions and my corresponding answers (translated in English because the show was in Filipino)

Q: What are the effective ways to avoid separation anxiety of parents and children?

A:  Separation anxiety in children is more common in the younger ones and its manifestations include (but is not limited to) crying, clinging to parent or caregiver and refusal to participate in activities. Children experience separation anxiety primarily because they are unfamiliar with the place, people and situations they are subjected to–in this case, the school.

To ease separation anxiety, it is important to prepare the child. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take the child to school before classes start to him/her to see the grounds, classroom, meet the teachers, etc.
  • At home, establish a schedule for the child especially sleeping and waking up time so he/she will not have a difficulty during the first day of school.
  • Avoid making scary comments about school or the teacher in hopes of ensuring the child will follow. “Huhulihin ka ng pulis pag di ka nag-behave” or “You will be taken to the principal’s office if you cry!” will NOT work. Statements as such will just make the child more jittery about school.
  • Come first day of school, begin it with a cheerful good morning greeting and happy breakfast (say the child’s favorite meal) to keep the stress away.

Q: What if my child really does not want to be left in the classroom, are there school rules barring parents/caregivers to stay inside the room for nursery/kindergarten classes?

A: At Nest, we have a class of toddlers. They are first time schoolers and we really expect that these little ones would cry during the first day of school. Some children cry for more than one session, so for those very few cases, we allow a parent or a caregiver inside the classroom just for the first week…tops.

The thing is, the school setting is really meant to be experienced by the child for him/herself. So the sooner the parent/caregiver lets go of the child, the sooner he/she can fully explore the school and enjoy the company of his/her classmates.

Q: Do I need to bribe my child to convince him/her to stay in school? A: I am very uncomfortable with the word “bribe”. I don’t want to use  it because it comes with a negative connotation and an entirely different set of values. I prefer to say that making use of positive reinforcement for a desirable behavior.

To bribe means to make a promise (material or otherwise) in exchange for a desired behavior (meaning it comes before the behavior) while a positive reinforcement may be a praise or small token after achieving a goal.

“Good job yung hindi ka na umiyak anak, sana bukas ulit.” sure sounds a lot better than “Anak naman please, wag na ka umiyak. Ibibili kita ng…” . It also saves parents the trouble of making so much promises and spending a lot just to get children to stop crying.

This has been quite a lengthy post. But wait..there’s more!

You may continue reading Part 2 of this Q&A here.

Thanks T. Charo, T. Venice, T. Mike and Ivy of DZUP for the wonderful experience!

Have any other questions about separation anxiety? Please ask away!


T. Paula


3 responses »

  1. […] In case you missed it, the first part can be found here. […]

  2. […] the rainy weather (and some school jitters), everyone excitedly welcomed the new and old […]

  3. […] being part of a new group—knowing faces, following conversations, recognizing behaviors, and getting used to a new environment. Soon enough, this new group was beginning to feel familiar. I could feel the children warming up […]

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