I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for some time, ever since I caught my son’s nursery teacher tearing up in adoration she watched my son and I carry out our usual goodbye ritual at the nursery gate. I hadn’t realised before then what a special bonding ritual it is, one which helps us reconnect just before we seperate for the day and helps us to feel reassured if we miss each other while we are apart.
So with this week bringing the start of the new school year, I thought now is a perfect time to share this special trick my 3 year old son and I have developed to help alleviate his anxiety about watching me leave him at the nursery gate. And it’s so fantastically simple, it can work for all ages! He sweetly calls it “charging up our hearts”
This is a week of firsts for so many children; whether they’re starting preschool or reception, leaving mum or dad for the first time, moving into secondary school, travelling to school without a parent for the first time, starting college or leaving home to go to university. With each new change comes a whole new level of independance from Mum & Dad, and most likely a whole new wave of nerves and temporary insecurity! Helping your child feel safe & secure as they get used to these changes is the priority; to give them confidence to embrace the new experiences with excitement, rather than feel anxious or aprehensive about all the unknowns.
Children feel safest when they are in the presence of their mother or primary caregiver. In their presence, children are more confident to go out and explore their surroundings, secure in the knowledge that their safe base is watching over them and will keep them out of danger. But with that can bring fear over any seperation from their safe base. Watching my own son’s anxiety about saying goodbye to me on nursery days got me thinking about how I could reassure him that he was still safe even when he wasn’t with me. I hated the thought of him not fully enjoying his days at nursery if he was missing me or feeling insecure.
So from the day he started nursery at the age of 2, I explained to him that even when he isn’t with me, I’m always in his heart and he is always in mine. I explained to him that because we were in each others hearts all the time, if he ever missed me during the day, he could simply rub his heart or hug himself and I would feel his love. And if he felt his heart getting warm, it’s because I was hugging him from wherever I was (It’s amazing how much a 2 year olds can comprehend!). I made it a habit to remind him of that every time I dropped him off at nursery.
Then one day after nursery he told me that he hadn’t had a good day because he missed me too much, and he didn’t think I was in his heart any more. I realised we needed to make a point of charging up our hearts at every single goodbye to make sure he could feel my love all day long.
So this is the special trick we came up with for “charging up our hearts”:
I kneel on the floor to face him and make eye contact with him.
I place my hand over his heart and he places his hand over mine
We both make a charging up noise (A sort of buzzing “zzzzzzzz” sound!)
We make a loud “DING” together, which marks the charging up cycle complete!
Quick kiss and cuddle and we almost always seperate peacefully and without tears!
Feel free to try it yourselves, it really does work! (the zzzzzzz sound is optional with teenagers!) Or even see if you can invent your own ways to charge up your love!
The key thing is about taking those few moments to really connect with your child, make eye contact and focus in on each other. It’s so easy for mornings to feel rushed and stressful and you can so easily just end up barking orders at your children to get out the house on time. So this simple goodbye ritual, which takes less than 30 seconds, helps to reset all that stress and allows you to say goodbye properly to best prepare your child for the new challanges ahead!