Music to Ease Separation Anxiety

Dad kissing child goodbye at childcare

"I still remember how nervous I felt on my son’s first day of preschool as I waved good-bye to him at the door of Noah’s Ark Preschool," says Ellen Acuna, In-School Services Mentor. "I wondered if my spirited three-year-old would sit still long enough, follow directions, or exercise impulse control when a classmate knocked down his blocks. I know my anxiety was mirrored in him, too. He wondered if he would have to eat the snack the school made, listen to this new teacher, and—most frightening of all—if Mommy would come back for him. If you are preparing to send your little one off to preschool or kindergarten this fall, I am sure you understand these feelings!"

Transitions can be very hard for young children (and grownups, too!). When we don’t know what to expect, it creates apprehension and anxiety. That’s why there is comfort in routines and rituals. When you know what will happen next, moving on is not as scary. Songs can be used to ease lots of transition-related anxiety: between activities, such as playtime to cleanup time, and between settings like the home and the school.

Happily, there’s a special Music Together song, appropriately titled “They Come Back,” that helps children deal with the anxiety they might experience when transitioning from home to another setting (like school). Over the years, the song has been a useful tool for many families. If you think your child may be feeling nervous about going back to (or starting) school this fall, we invite you to download a MP3 and PDF of the music for "They Come Back" below.

musical friends group image illustration

(You may have to right-click on this link and click “save link as” to download the song.)

It might be a good idea to sing the song with your child this summer as the two of you start talking about school. The lyrics include a straightforward acknowledgment of some of the feelings your child may experience (“sometimes you miss them and sometimes you’re sad, sometimes you kiss them and sometimes you get very mad”) as well as an affirmation that “whoever takes care of you comes back, because they do love you.” Make singing the song together a part of your routine whenever you will be separated. This way, it will act as the signal that a separation is coming, allow your child time to process his feelings, and remind him that someone he loves will come back for him after school, a playdate, or any other separation.

We hope “They Come Back” helps your family as it has helped many other Music Together families. If you have any questions, feel free to ask your Music Together teacher or email us at