If your kid puts up a fuss on his first day of nursery school, be happy.

"During a child's first separation, if the child doesn't go through a little trauma, it indicates there is a lack of emotional bonding with the family, and a greater problem exists," says Dr. Laurene Smith.But also be advised that how the parent reacts, so may the child react.

"If the parent displays anxiety about the separation," she says, "the child will display anxiety as well. Being positive, communicative and, above all, enthusiastic about your child's first venture from home will go far in helping him suffer as little trauma as possible."

Smith, vice president of Educational Research and Development at Kinder-Care Learning Centers, Inc., a nationwide child-care company, offers these tips to ease a child's anxiety:

- Don't try to slip away. Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and trying to sneak out will only heighten their fear of abandonment.

- Prepare your child beforehand. Read him paperbacks such as "Will I Have a Friend?" by Miriam Cohen (MacMillan, 1967) or "What Mary Jo Shared" by Janice M. Udry (Scholastic, 1966) which explore the fun of social activities. Tell him what to expect. Discuss the daily routine and reinforce the fact that she will be experiencing familiar situations, such as regular lunch and nap times. Children, like adults, feel more comfortable when they know what's ahead.

- It is OK to leave something personal with the child, such as a scarf or a change purse. This helps the child feel more secure because instinctively she knows you will return for it - and her.