10 Books for Toddler Separation Anxiety

Preparing a little one for preschool, or any type of consistent separation, can be a nerve wracking task. As I began planning for my two-year-old’s first preschool experience, I spent a lot of time thinking about how she would handle the separation. How do you adequately explain the process of separation to a two year old? I have been home with my daughter full time for the last three years, so I was understandably concerned about her reaction to heading to school alone.

In chatting with fellow parents and conducting a bit of research on my own, I came to realize there are tons of great books for toddler separation anxiety available – who knew? All the books on the list below provide a fantastic way to broach the subject in an age appropriate and sensitive way – a few might even leave you fighting back tears!

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10 Books for Toddler Separation Anxiety

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  1. Owl Babies is an adorable book about three little owl siblings who are temporarily separated from their mother. The three owls have different age appropriate reactions to mommy owl’s absence and when she does return the message is clear that mommy always comes back. It’s a very sweet and subtle separation book, perfect for young toddlers.
  2. Llama Llama Misses Mama is another appropriate book for the young toddler and part of the popular Llama Llama series. Llama Llama goes through the entire process of getting ready for school, but realizes that he really misses his mama after being dropped off. The book highlights all of the typical preschool activities and ultimately that mama always comes back at the end of the day.
  3. Wemberly Worried Wemberly is always worried, about big and small things (which now includes going off to school). Because of the nature of her constant worrying, I think this book is best suited for an older toddler, or a child who is entering kindergarden/first grade – most of the content would be lost on the youngest ones.
  4. Daniel Goes to School (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) is great for young toddlers and especially fans of the show. Daniel gets dropped off at school and wishes his dad could stay. The central message and tagline of the book, “grown-ups come back”, is a reoccurring theme within many of these books. 
  5. Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experience Book is a colorful book about all the activities a little one might experience during preschool. This book would be helpful in showing a toddler some examples of what might take place during a typical school day.
  6. The Invisible String is a very sweet book about separation of any sort and how we are always bound by love (the invisible string) regardless of how far we may be from family and friends. The “invisible string” concept might be a little difficult for young toddlers to grasp, but the book does a great job of emphasizing it’s purpose regardless.
  7. I Love You All Day Long is about an adorable pig Owen and his mommy. Owen’s mommy reminds him that she loves him when she’s with him and when they’re apart – which Owen realizes is actually all day long! This is a great choice for young toddlers.
  8. My First Day of Nursery School is about a hesitant little girl on her first day of preschool. After she gets involved in the day’s fun activities, she begins to change her mind about school. This is another good book for demonstrating what happens during the typical preschool day.
  9. The Kissing Hand (A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon) is one of my favorite books on this list, it’s suitable for young toddlers and even those children a bit older. Mommy raccoon leaves a kiss in the palm of her young raccoon and tells him to hold his hand to his cheek anytime he misses her at school and it’s as if she’s there with him (cue the tears).
  10. When I Miss You is about a young guinea pig who experiences the emotions of being separated from mom and dad. She learns different ways to be comforted in their absence and learns they will eventually come home.

Whether your child is attending preschool for the first time, you’re headed back to work or taking an adults only vacation, these books provide a variety of options for addressing any potential separation anxiety in a subtle and nurturing way. When it comes to my daughter, she has experienced very little anxiety about school, in fact I have to wrangle her for a kiss goodbye! You never know what to expect with these little ones ;).

Best of luck with this latest parenting adventure!
Anna

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