Reading Tips For Parents & Educators

Find expert reading strategies and useful tips to help introduce children to the wonderful world of reading on their own with I Can Read!

Separation Anxiety and How to Help Your Child Let Go

It’s normal for youngsters to experience separation anxiety. Whether they’re hesitant to leave you or attached to a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, kids find comfort in the familiar. There are certain things that they’ll never outgrow (like you!) but as they enter school, they may be faced with situations in which they’ll have to leave a beloved stuffy, or toy, behind.

Our favorite fancy girl, Fancy Nancy, can relate! In the new I Can Read! book, Disney Junior Fancy Nancy: Toodle-oo, Miss Moo, the Clancys decide to have a yard sale, and Nancy has to decide if she can say goodbye to her oldest, most precious toy, Miss Moo. When your child is faced with a dilemma like Nancy’s, there are a few things that you can do to help ease the transition:

Give them examples of others who have had to deal with separation anxiety. You can tell your child about a time when you outgrew one of your favorite comfort objects or encourage them to read a book like Toodle-oo, Miss Moo about a favorite character who had to give up a toy that they loved. If your child is entering kindergarten or first grade, they may even be able to read the story on their own, or out loud to you, and then you can discuss how the story made you feel!

Tell them it’s okay to be sad. Nancy is devastated at the idea of parting with Miss Moo. If your child is leaving a toy behind, talk with them about how they’re feeling and assure them that everyone has felt this way before, especially at a similar age.

Find the toy a good home. Rather than selling a toy off to a stranger or putting it in a donation bin, you could encourage your child to give the toy to a close friend or relative. In Toodle-oo, Miss Moo, Nancy and Bree decide (spoiler alert!) to give Nancy’s favorite childhood toy to Bree’s little brother, Freddy. Many schools also have reading buddies in the classroom. You could ask your local school if it’s looking for gently used donations for the program so that your child can still see his or her buddy on occasion and know where the toy’s new home is.

Know that some things are okay to hang onto. Comfort objects can have emotional benefits. Among other things, they can boost a child’s confidence and their self-value. So, as parents, we want to be gentle when it comes to helping a child transition away from a toy they cherish. In some cases, that may mean spending less time with the toy rather than getting rid of it for good. As Bree says to Nancy, “Don’t feel bad … I still have baby toys too.”

How do you help your child with separation anxiety? We’d love to know; tell us below!

For a complete list of inspiring stories that are great for early readers, check out the I Can Read! collection.

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