When your child is young, they are used to doing everything with you. A bond begins to form that is difficult to break.
But as your child grows older, separation will become necessary as parents return to work, children start school or maybe mommy and daddy just want to go out for the night.
Seeing your children in tears as you leave them at home for the first time can be heartbreaking, but for your child, it’s a necessary part of growing up. Keeping that in mind, there are certain ways of minimizing your child’s separation anxiety making things more pleasant for the both of you.
The Effects of Separation Anxiety
The effects of separation anxiety may vary depending on your child’s age but can be apparent in infants as young as 4 to 5 months old. While you might think your child’s reaction to your leaving will improve as he or she gets older, it can actually get worse as toddlers and preschoolers are more aware that you will be leaving and that they will be left with another caregiver. Their reactions can be even more dramatic if they are sick, tired or hungry.
The key to minimizing separation anxiety and the way your child reacts to it is to keep goodbyes routine and consistent.
How to Deal with Separation Anxiety
Implement Quick Goodbye Rituals
Whether you kiss your child goodbye, say a few choice words or leave them with their favorite stuffed animal, keep it short and sweet. A prolonged goodbye will increase anxiety and allow for more time for your child to become emotional.
No matter which ritual you choose to use on your child, try to keep it consistent each time. This will reduce the chances of anything unexpected occurring while limiting the emotions your child is feeling and helping them to build trust and independence.
Let Your Child Know When You Will Be Seeing Them Again
When leaving your child, reassure them that you will be returning at a certain time or after a certain activity occurs. For instance, you can tell them “I’ll be back after nap time,” or “I’ll be back when the bell rings.”
If you are leaving them for an extended period, describe this time in term of nights of sleep. For instance, if you will be leaving for three days, tell them you will be back in ‘three nights of sleep’. This will make the time frame seem shorter for your child.
Separation is always difficult for a mother and child, but it is a necessary part of life that must be taught early on. Communicating with your child and keeping goodbyes short and consistent are all great ways to make him or her become more comfortable with their independence. Good luck making it through this pivotal stage in your child’s life.
Inspired by www.healthychildren.org