My child always cries in preschool, what can I do?

A two- or three- year- old child may feel anxious upon separating from his parents or main caregivers for a while or going to an unfamiliar place. A quiet and shy child usually needs more time to adapt to the new environment than an outgoing child. If he stops crying soon after you leave, you don’t need to worry.

To help your child overcome his anxiety when starting preschool and to lessen his worry on being abandoned by you, you can practice with him in advance. First, find a baby-sitter your child likes. When he is settled in an interesting activity with the baby-sitter, tell him you are going to leave for a while and say goodbye. Initially, you can leave for a few minutes and then gradually lengthen the separation time.

Whenever during practice or going to school, tell your child when you will return. For example, tell him “Mummy will return after you finish riding the trike.” You must keep your promise and come back on time to pick him up. To strengthen his sense of security, you may leave your belongings such as your scarf or photo with him and ask him to keep it for you.

Are there other ways to help my child adapting to starting preschool?

You can read or tell him stories about interesting school life, go to school with him, or visit the nursery or kindergarten with him to let him familiarize with the school environment. Talk more about the happy moments at school with your child, such as the songs he learnt, the games he played and how kind the teachers are to him. Try to keep frequent contacts with the teachers. Let them understand more about your child to facilitate the relationship between the teachers and your child. Avoid using threatening words that will arouse anxiety towards being abandoned such as “I don’t want you anymore”, “Get out of the door” or “I’ll tell your teacher to punish you”.

Some children may have temperament that makes them slow-to-warm-up or difficult to adapt to changes. If your child still cries a lot after starting preschool for some time, you may need to discuss with his teacher on how to help him further adapting to school life.