We all have them, maybe our kids struggle with it, we know that separation anxiety with our kids is a real thing. Whether you have kids that cry the whole service or kids that struggle to say goodbye to their parents as the drop their babies off.
This is a big deal for kid and parent. This should not be taken lightly. I have a good friend that I made through helping their child deal with separation anxiety. It was one of the most fulfilling moments I’ve had in ministry. The child was having trouble to say the least. Where the child would not have a moment when he/she wasn’t crying in the classroom. I felt for the family. And we tried a lot of different things to make it work. But it got to a place when we could not keep going without a real plan. I sat down with the dad and explained how we are going to make this work. We talked about what we are both going to have to do to make it work.
How you handle separation anxiety will make or break your kid’s ministry. If you aren’t welcoming, positive, and helpful, it shows. It will be hard to keep families coming back, so their kids can learn about Jesus.
Here is the plan I had the parent and myself follow. There are 8 things each of us had to do to make it work. My promise was to honor my end, if they did the same.
Some Strategies for Parent
- Schedule brief periods of separation – It will establish trust that you will return
- Well Rested, fed and healthy
- Stay Calm and assured during the separation – Children absorb insecurities
- Do not sneak out of room – but do leave in a timely manner.
- Develop a special goodbye routine – anything from a silly tickle, a high five, a hug, kisses – funny phrases…and say goodbye in this way on a regular basis
- This is all apart of natural developmental phase
- Pray for your child before and during the separation
- Celebrate small victories and encourage your child in love
Our commitment to you and your child
- Familiarize my teachers with childhood separation anxiety
- Create a pleasing environment to welcome babies and toddlers, within the room. Provide a quiet corner that is calm and inviting for children who prefer to observe rather than participate.
- Greet parents and children warmly.
- Be very predictable on Sunday mornings with same teachers and regular schedule of events
- Have fun games and songs etc for the kids that are having more trouble
- Allow children to assert independence and control with small choices
- Ensure that the parents can be contacted during the service if necessary. Establish a limit to the crying that the parent is in agreement with.
These are not complicated. It just takes patience, love, and consistency. Parents look to us to be a resource and have a plan. So when faced with any separation anxiety, remain positive and work with the parents and kids to help.
Separation Anxiety is something we will always face. It is our duty to help parents and kids work through it. Usually it just takes time, but these kids are worth it.
Happy to say, this child is one of my favorites in the kid’s ministry. The parents worked hard to make it work and so did we. I love seeing his happy face and getting high fives and hugs. It is hard to think that if our team hadn’t worked with them, I may not have that awesome kid in our Kid’s ministry.
They are worth it.