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Those 3 Daunting Words: "See You Later!"

Written by Brittany Sommer Katzin, Ed.M
Director of Learning & Impact, Noggin, Mom of 3 ​

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Written by Brittany Sommer Katzin, Ed.M
Director of Learning & Impact, Noggin, Mom of 3 ​

It’s a familiar scene. The front of a school. Families crowded together, giving big hugs and taking first-day pictures. Some heads are bent a bit, tears forming, clutching onto a hand they wish they could hold onto for just another few seconds. And those are just the caregivers! Some of the kids are having a difficult time, too. Whether it’s the first time they’ve separated from a caregiver, or the first time they’ve done it in a while, separations can be difficult and bring up lots of big feelings – for everyone.

I’ve been through these school separations before. And let me tell you, just because you’ve done one of them doesn’t mean the rest will be the same! I have one child who when entering their preschool for the first time, turned their back without so much as a wave, their smile so wide you could almost see it from behind. My other child needed to be physically removed from me. Both types of separation are completely normal (I’ve learned!), and whether or not your child has a difficult time doesn’t actually say much about the type of parent you are. However, your actions in that moment, and in preparing your child for that moment, can speak volumes to them.

Here are a few ways to make saying “see you later” just a little bit easier:

Create a Goodbye Routine

Having a routine helps kids know what to expect, and that helps them feel safe. Create a goodbye routine together that you can do once you arrive at your destination. Maybe it’s a special handshake, a hug for each other and then a hug for yourselves, or singing part of a favorite song together and promising to finish the tune when you reunite later.

Start a Tradition

Having something to look forward to makes the day go by more quickly. Start a tradition of leaving a note in their snack, lunch, or backpack that they can look forward to opening. Maybe it’s a silly drawing, a knock-knock joke, or a simple “I <3 you!” Your child will look forward to this moment and feel your love.

Practice Together

Practice makes…better! If you have a hunch that separating might be a difficult moment for your child (or for both of you!), play it out beforehand so they’ll know what to expect. Take a field trip to the point of separation (whether it be their daycare, school, grandparent’s house, etc.), and practice saying “see you soon.” It may even be good to do this more than once. When things feel more routine and familiar, they become less alarming.

Use “Heart Words”

Kids may wonder why others are skipping away from their caregivers when they feel so sad to leave you. Let them know that it’s okay – and normal – for goodbyes to feel upsetting. When you love someone so much, it’s challenging to leave them, even just for the school day! You might make up “heart words” to say together as you part. For instance, “I am brave. I am loved. I’m going to have a great day.”

When I told my six-year-old that I was writing this article and asked for her advice, she said, “Just give them a hug, look into their eyes, and tell them that you love them very much. They’ll believe you.” Before I could ask if she was talking about the parent or the child, she turned her head and skipped away, without another thought. “See you later,” I said.

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About Ailey

Since its first historic performance in 1958, Ailey has been innovating and evolving the perception of American modern dance throughout the world. Noggin is honored to partner with them in helping kids all over get up moving, learning, and expressing their feelings through dance. Because movement has meaning when we dance how we’re feeling!