Updated: Sep 1, 2022
Sometimes, it's difficult to know who is more anxious about separation. Is it the child, or is it the parent? Healthy Children .org has an article about easing a child's separation anxiety that I will briefly provide here.
You may find the complete article at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Soothing-Your-Childs-Separation-Anxiety.aspx
For parents, the idea of leaving your child with a care giver can be painful emotionally. Most every parent has to answer questions regarding values and obligations for themselves. For children, being apart from your parent for the first time can be a terrifying experience. Healthy emotional development necessitates that their needs are met quickly.
We should also understand that gaining independence, for the parent and the child, is also a fundamentally essential stage in the relationship. Children must learn to find a way to soothe themselves (many parents are also wrestling with this concept). As adults, we often rush to stop or prevent a child from crying out. We react to Nature's alarm system that comes hard-wired with every infant. Their cry can bring us running quickly or that cry can disrupt all other thoughts that we were thinking! Remember that if the baby has everything that they need, then some crying is not going to hurt them (or you). The exercise is actually good for their lung development! It may also help with your development of patience...
How to survive separation anxiety:
- Create quick good-bye rituals. There are words that you can use, or physical movements that you can make that let the child (and yourself) know that separation is imminent. Make them short, but sweet instead of dragging them out for several minutes.
- Be consistent. Try do do the same rituals at the same time and at the same place every time. This will provide some comfort within the security of knowing what is happening.
- Attention. Give your child your full attention when separating. Use eye contact as well as physical touch and say good-bye firmly despite their attempts to keep you.
- Keep your promises. Be sure to say what you mean and to mean what you say. Don't make promises that you cannot keep. And if you say that you will return in two hours, and they understand this language, then do everything that you can to see them in two hours.
- Be specific for your child. Not a
ll children understand time, nor can they tell what time it is. So you will need to let them know in a manner that they understand. Use words like, "after you eat lunch," "after nap," or something else that they can understand.
-Practice. Take some time to practice being apart from your child. Some children are always clinging to their parents or have them on the run every waking moment. Give them some alone time. Put them somewhere with something to do for a set amount of time. Give them a timer that they can understand if you want. You can also practice by letting them stay with friends or family for short periods of time. Play dates with other families can allow your child to begin to be with children their own age, independent of yourself.
Often, we find parents anxious about leaving their children at Child's Play. They look longingly after their child only to find them busy with some activity or another child. Many times a crying child will stop a few minutes after the parent walks out the door. It's normal to worry, but often the anxiety is much worse than the actual separation.