Expert Q+A: Are We Ready for Preschool?

Separation Anxiety

Q. My daughter cried every day at preschool for weeks, and I don't want my son to go through the same thing when he starts. (I don't want to go through it again, either!)

A. If your child sobs or cries hysterically every time you leave him at school, you're bound to wonder whether you should take him out. "But almost all kids need some help to separate from a parent, and that's a good thing," Katz says. "It's a sign of your child's strong relationship with you."

Usually, separation is tougher for a 2-year-old, who's less articulate and less experienced, than it is for a 3- or 4-year-old. But for most kids, the adjustment to preschool can take a couple of weeks. "Stay at school for a little while, but then say good-bye, and have faith that your child's teacher will comfort him and help him get involved in something," Strasser says. Ask the teacher how long your child's tears last; often, crying stops moments after you leave. And help your child remember that you'll be back by giving him an "I love you" note for his pocket, or a photo of you or your family for his cubby.

If more than a month has passed and your child still seems miserable, you might try shortening his school day or reducing the number of days he goes to school. Conversely, some children adjust more easily when they go to school more frequently -- for instance, three or four days instead of two.

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