Sign up for our Newsletter

74.6 F
Monday, July 4, 2022

Stay Connected

  • Patel Conservatory

Sign up for our Newsletter

Bye, Bye Baby

Simple steps to overcome separation anxiety

It’s the moment every parent of a small child dreads: the good-bye. For parents of young children, it can be a gut-wrenching, heart wrenching, guilt-ridden moment full of tears, protests, and quick getaways.

Separation anxiety can ruin your workday, put a damper on your rare dinner out, and keep you chained to your toddler. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Babies can show signs of separation anxiety as early as six months and young children can experience it at any age. One of the hardest scenarios for parents to deal with is dropping their clingy and crying toddler off at daycare. It can tug at your heartstrings and make you doubt yourself and your decisions. But the good news is that separation anxiety will pass and there are some simple solutions to help you get to that point.

Toddlers understand about people leaving before they learn about people returning and they can tell from your actions that you’re about to leave. So for most children (and their parents), anxiety begins to build even before you’ve stepped one foot out the door.

Separation anxiety can show up in many forms. Your child may cry when you leave the room or refuse to be put down if she knows you’ll be leaving. Some children will even go so far as to follow their parents into every room all day long. It can be both frustrating and sad for parents when they feel as though they are causing their children sadness. There are ways to make saying bye-bye a bit easier for you and your child.

Bring out the blankie: Transitional objects, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed toy, can be reassuring to small children. In fact, to your child, these items are a symbol of you. They represent comfort, safety and joy. Encouraging your child to attach to a transitional object early in infancy will allow him to be better at self-soothing. When you have to leave your child, be sure that those special objects are close at hand to provide comfort while you are away.

Practice makes perfect: It may seem silly for you to practice being apart from your child, but it can really make a big difference. Easing your child into separation is a great way to prepare her for being away from you. And you don’t even have to leave the house to get started. Tell your baby or toddler that you’ll be going to another room and you’ll be back soon. This will help her to begin to make the connection that although you are gone now, you will come back. If you know you’re going to be away for a longer than normal period, help your child work up to that separation by taking a series of short breaks, such as running next door for a minute or going out on a brief errand.

Ask your sitter to come early: Whether you’re leaving your baby for a dinner date with your spouse or you have hired an in-home sitter to watch your little one while you’re at work, leaving him in the hands of someone else can be stressful for both you and your baby. Even though you may not realize it, your child picks up on the anxiety you are feeling, and it will affect his reaction as well. To give you both peace of mind, be sure to spend some time with the sitter and your child before leaving. This will help your baby to see that the sitter is someone he can trust and will help both he and your sitter get to know one another. If you are relaxed and happy about the situation, your child is much more likely to be as well.

Leave on a happy note: Every parent has done the sneaky slip out the door in hopes of making a tearless getaway. Actually this is doing more harm than good. Just because she doesn’t see you leave doesn’t mean she won’t eventually notice your absence. In order to alleviate separation anxiety, you want to make sure your child is associating happy thoughts with your comings and goings. It’s hard to see your child cry but if you continue to sneak off, she’ll become even more worried that you might disappear at any moment. Let her see you leave, even if it triggers the waterworks, and make sure there is a fun activity in place for her to take part in immediately following your departure. It may take a few tries, but eventually she’ll begin to associate your leaving with emotions other than anxiety and sadness.

Ditch the guilt: There aren’t many things that pull at your heartstrings more than having to leave a crying child who is reaching out for you. You want to be there for your child but there are times when you just can’t. And it’s not healthy for either of you if you constantly feel trapped. Remind yourself that this is a stage and you both will get through it. You aren’t a bad parent for leaving your child in tears. In fact, your efforts are working to raise a healthy, independent adult. Don’t minimize her experience by getting resentful or angry if she goes into a tirade when you leave. It’s quite normal to feel at peace with your child’s neediness at one moment and then to feel agitated and overwhelmed the next. Try to find ways to balance your need for her independence with her need to expand her world and feel safe. You’ll both be the better for it.

Another important thing for parents to remember is that their anxiety can be contagious. The more anxious you are about leaving or about others caring for your little one, the more anxious she will be. Be calm, confident and reassuring. And when you return, take time to enjoy the warm welcome and extra hugs. Being apart makes reuniting that much sweeter.

Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, is the author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children and The Internet Mommy.

Previous articleSpirit of the Season
Next articleCause for Alarm

Related Articles

Esports CAN be a career and Esports Players Club in Tampa is here for it

Your kid love gaming? Don’t sweat it. Esports Players Club in Tampa says that passion could actually turn into a lucrative career. Let us explain… As...

Florida Sales Tax Holidays: Freedom Week, Baby Diapers and Clothes, Kid’s Books + MORE

Florida's popular sales tax holidays are returning in 2022 like the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, but here are some NEW ones that we know...

Where to pick sunflowers and other pretty flowers in Tampa Bay

The season for u-pick sunflowers is back in Tampa Bay and the giant beauties are in full bloom along with other beauties like zinnias...
Tampa Bay Back to School Fair