Going to School for the First Time
Dear Parents,

We know that the first days of joining school can be stressful for both parents and child. To make this as smooth as easy as possible it would help us to have some general background information about your child's home life. It would help your child's teacher to encourage your child by knowing whether he has sisters or brothers; how old they are and the child's position in the family, e.g. oldest/middle/youngest/only; his/her favorite toys, food, likes and dislikes. In fact anything you feel would be a benefit to the well-being of your child. Please speak with your child's teacher.

Attachment Stage for Stranger Anxiety: What Parents Can Do?

The fourth of attachment, known as stranger anxiety, is characterized by fear of unknown or strange adults. The cautions behavior of separation anxiety, Stage 3 is replaced with clinging, crying, screaming, and fearful responses to unfamiliar adults. Toddlers resist overtures and interactions from unknown adults and show distress when their parents and favorite alternate caregiver leaves them or moves away from them. This stage emerges at 18 or 19 months and lasts until 24-26 months.

These behaviors indicate that your child is very close to finishing the development of his or her emotional attachment to you. But, your child is not yet ready to let the whole world intrude on the closeness he or she feels with you. Strangers, therefore, pose threats. The first is that they might take you away, and, secondly, they might take your child away from you. Strategies to help toddlers through this stage include the following:

  • Tell your child goodbye everytime you leave. This continues to be an important idea well into the preschool years. Help your child say goodbye, even if he or she resists. Use the old standbys of hugs, kisses, and a reminder to hold tight to a security item or a picture of you for comfort.
  • Keep as consistent a schedule as possible. Predictability is a great comfort during this stage. It keeps toddlers from getting upset because they anticipate your return and it doesn't happen.
  • When you are at home and your child object to you leaving the room or doing the tasks, take a minute to hold him or her, reconnect with your child, and assure him or her that you will still be there. Then, tell him or her what you are going to do and when you will be back. Offer to take your child along, if possible.
  • Prepare your child for changes. Tell him or her what is going to happen before it happens. This prepares  children to anticipate transitions and keeps toddlers from being surprised by the change.

Although many parents report that this is a tough stage, it signals that your child's emotional development is right on target. Supporting your child through this last stage is important.