The first goodbye between a parent and a child will elicit a range of emotions from each. The feelings, and responses, of both parent and child, are dependent upon a range of factors including who the child is being left with, how well the child and the substitute carer know each other, the feelings of all parties about each other, the circumstances, the environment, and the list goes on.
A parent who feels empowered by the decision, and views the child’s new situation positively, will accept and adjust to the change more easily. That’s not to say a parent won’t feel some sense of loss and anxiety as well, but it is important that the child is prepared with reassurance rather than the negativity of anxiety or concerns. A more confident and secure child will view the situation with positive expectations.
Anne Goodwin, on her blog Annecdotal, often refers to attachment theory, and the responses of children to real or imagined abandonment. In her post Compassion: Something we all need Anne shares the following video, explaining that
“Research psychologist Mary Ainsworth developed an ingenious method of assessing whether or not an infant has developed secure attachments. In the Strange Situation, babies play in a comfortable room until, at a given signal, the mother leaves. What distinguishes securely from insecurely attached infants, is not how they behave when the mother (or other primary carer) leaves, but whether they are able to settle on her return.”
“Research suggests that about two thirds of the population can be categorised as securely attached. That’s a whopping one third of us who aren’t.”
The research also suggests that how secure children feel in their infancy influences how secure they feel later in life. A sense of security influences one’s ability to adapt to change and new situations.
It is not unusual for children, or anyone, to feel a little apprehension in a new situation. A more secure individual generally accepts and adapts more easily. When carers drop their children at child care, kindy, or school, they may be advised to “drop and go”. Mostly the children are fine once the parents have disappeared and the children have time to settle.
If children experience more difficulty than most, or if it occurs for a prolonged period, causes may need to be investigated. Sometimes a child may suffer from anxiety. Sometimes the environment may not be welcoming or appropriate to the child’s needs. Happy, secure, confident children will always face new situations better than those who feel anxious and insecure.
Parents can help children prepare for that first day of kindy or school by:
- Talking about what to expect and the fun things they will do
- Having special items for the child to take or wear; for example, a back pack or lunch container, hat or shoes
- Rehearsing the journey
- Visiting the kindy or school, and meeting the carers or teachers if possible
- Writing happy messages (in words or pictures) to be found in bags, or lunchboxes
- Establishing routines, including the goodbye routine
While the routine doesn’t have to be as elaborate or serious as that in Ian Whybrow’s Hey, I Love You!, a signal that the parent is leaving is useful in making the break. It doesn’t have to be immediate. Depending on the practices established, parents may be able to accompany the child to the door, or into the room.
I always welcomed parents to come in with their children in the morning. The children could show their parents around and discuss work we were doing. Parents could help children organise their belongings, and talk to other parents and children. When it was time for work to begin, I would play music that would signal children to join the song or dance, and parents to take their leave.
This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about goodbyes. She is on the move from a place to which she felt attached, to a situation unfamiliar. She is sad at leaving but is able to view with hopefulness the situation to which she is moving. Charli has challenged writers to
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye. It can be the last polka until next time; a farewell without end; a quick see ya later. How does the goodbye inform the story. What is the tone, the character’s mood, the twist? Go where the prompt leads.
Usually I post my response as the deadline draws close. However, as she is on the move, Charli has extended the submission period. If you would like to join in with a flash fiction “goodbye”, you have another week until September 13 to do so.
Here is my response to the challenge.
A goodbye clapping song
(Parent and child chant the verses together or take turns, changing the pronouns to suit. They begin by clapping their own, then each other’s’ hands. On the last three beats of each line, they clap each other’s hands. The pattern for each line is “Own, other’s, own other’s, own, other’s. other’s. other’s. On the last line they smile, wave, blow a kiss, and leave! It’s meant to be a bit of nonsense and a bit of fun establishing a goodbye routine.)
It’s time for you to go, go, go
I’ve lots to do and can’t be slow.
It’s time for me to fly, fly, fly
Upon my broom into the sky.
It’s time for you to leave, leave, leave
I will be happy, do not grieve.
It’s time for me to run, run, run
And jump so high I touch the sun
It’s time to say goodbye, bye, bye
You’ve work to do and so have I.
I’ll blow a kiss, and smile, smile, smile
I’ll see you in a little while.
Bye. Have a good day. Love you!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.