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Subduing Separation Anxiety

The dreaded goodbye usually consists of the teary eyes, screaming, and tantrums which always seem to make every parent feel guilty about leaving their kid in daycare. Around their first birthday most kids experience separation anxiety. Babies begin to develop this anxiety once a sense of object permanence forms around 4 to 7 months. At this stage they begin to realize that objects and people exist when they are out of sight. Although they may realize you have gone away they haven’t developed a concept of time meaning they don’t know if you will return.

The amount of time separation anxiety can last depends upon the child and their temperament. Some children might experience anxiety as late as elementary school years while others never experience it. Some children can become very clever as they understand the effect of holding a temper tantrum has on you. However if you do decide to run into the room every time, your child will continue to use this tactic in order to avoid being separated from you.

Common symptoms:

  • Refusing to go to school and will do anything to stay home.
  • Clinging to the caregiver
  • Complaining about a physical illness

Making Good-Byes a Breeze:

All Children’s Hospital offers a few tips:

  • When your youngster is between the ages of 8 months and a year old, try to not leave them with someone who is unfamiliar. Also, try to depart when your child has already taken a nap and has eaten because they will be less fussy.
  • Gradually introduce your baby to new people. If you plan on leaving your child with someone they have never met try and have that person over in advance. At first make sure you stay in the room so your child can form trust with the new babysitter or family member. After your child feels comfortable practice leaving the child with them until he or she is used to being away from you. If you plan on leaving your child in a daycare make several visits and arrange for your child to meet the staff members.
  • Do not try to distract or make a quick getaway without saying goodbye can last in your child crying longer as opposed to providing a loving response before leaving.
  • Always remain calm before exiting and show confidence. Reassure him or her you’ll be back-and how long it will be until pick them up.
  • Make sure you return when you promised because it will help your child form confidence and they won’t feel disappointed or tricked if you arrive on time.
  • You can also tell your child a time when you will call to check in. Wait fifteen to twenty minutes as by then your child should be having fun playing with toys or participating in activities.
  • If intense separation anxiety lasts into preschool, elementary school, or beyond seek help from a doctor as it could be interfering with school activities. Also, if your child experiences symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or panic attacks, nightmares, fear of sleeping alone, or worrying about becoming lost after the parent leaves seek a doctor’s advice.
  • If your child is older consider having them participate in after school activities as it will be a chance for them to meet new friends and could help them not feel anxious around others.

For some it may be easier to seek advice from fellow parents. BayCare, a leading not-for-profit health care system will be offering a managing motherhood class in Clearwater at the Powell Pavilion at 10 am on June 18th. The cost is free and will be held on the first floor. The class allows a northing environment for mothers to be able to support each other by sharing the challenges in their lives.


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