Many children experience separation anxiety as it is a normal stage of development. It may happen as young as one year old or as late as four years old. When a child is in his or her early years, separation anxiety may present itself as tantrums, clinginess and crying, which are all normal healthy reactions.
This type of anxiety can all be relieved with a variety of methods, but if the anxiety intensifies or disturbs your child’s performance at school or in activities, you may be dealing with the more severe separation anxiety disorder. For now, let’s take a look at what we as parents can do for our little ones who are experiencing any anxiety over being away from Mommy or Daddy.
Your child may benefit from having more time without you. It may sound like a nerve-wracking action for the parents, but if you can practice letting your little one spend time with other caregivers, they will be used to Mommy or Daddy being away for a while. An hour or two is a good amount of time to start with and then lead up to three or four hours at a time. This will eventually ease their anxiety, as they will be preoccupied with new activities and experiences with the caregiver. This method works best if Grandma or an Aunt or Uncle can take over for a few hours while Mommy or Daddy do some errands or go to a movie.
Familiarity is Key
When you are planning to get a babysitter and go out for the evening, have the babysitter come to you. This way your child can stay in her own space, and be surrounded by her familiar toys and play areas. This will make it much easier when you leave the house.
Choose Separation Times Carefully
If your baby is hungry or tired, separating can become very painful for them. Make sure your baby or toddler has a full tummy and has slept well or napped before you separate from each other. Believe me, it will make it easier on the both of you.
Be Direct, Honest and Quick
Be straightforward with your child. Tell them that you are going to go away for a little bit, but you will be back soon. Then leave immediately. The longer the goodbye is, the harder it will be on your child once you move towards the door.
Separating from your child isn’t easy on you or your child. It will always be uncomfortable, as parents always believe that they are the only ones that can protect their child from harm or the only ones that can comfort their little one.
However, we must look at how separation is healthy for our kids, and how it can offer your child a world of benefits. From confidence building and building new friendships, to independent thinking and problem solving skill development, there is a lot to be gained by helping your child with feelings of separation anxiety. Start small, and you’ll both be just fine. One baby step at a time.