As many of you know, I have a student who has had some horrific nightmares and anxiety attacks in the last 6 months after his father got very ill. We have found some very useful tips and tricks to use with him and with others who have this problem when their parents leave. I thought I would pass some of these along. Also, if you have any ideas-My co-workers and I are all ears.
1. Have the child and the parent come up with a charm or item that each can have a piece of. In this little boys case, he wears a laminated puzzle piece around his neck, his father wears the adjoining piece. When together, the chains are placed together, when apart each has their section. His says, "Daddy loves David." His father's, of course says "David loves Daddy."
2. allow the child to help pack the suitcase, being allowed to put something special in the suitcase. David's assignment from his counselor was to pack Daddy a special "just in case" medical kit. The kit consisted of gummy bears, band aids (Scooby Doo, of course), Motrin liquid (bubble gum flavor of course), bactine, Q-Tips, a bottle of aspirin, and 3 apples.
3. allow the child to pack a mock suitcase of the person's things. In his case, Daddy brought some drumsticks and other things for David to play with and to pack and unpack. It gave him a lot of pride to say, "my daddy is a musician and I'm pretending to pack his drum kit."
4. have a special tape with the person's voice on it with a song or message. I used to do this for my son when he was little, I recorded me singing his favorite lullabye (it sounded awful, but it worked for him when he was at that separation anxiety age). In David's case, it has his daddy reminding him not to worry and that he will be thinking of him.
5. just hold and comfort them and let them bring it up that they are worried or upset. Little ones will cry right off the bat. Five year-olds sometimes internalize their fears (as this child does).
6. Have your child draw a special card or picture for the parent to take with them. Start a week ahead of time and put the pictures in a special folder. (That is what I am doing this week with him).
Thought these were interesting, as I said, I am always open to suggestions as is the counselor and other teachers