It is absolutely natural that your child starts to feel anxious when it comes to bid you good-bye. You might consider it is as a difficult phase but it is also true that it is an essential part of the process of growing up for your child. With your proper understanding of the situation along with the coping strategies you can help your child get relieved from the stress of separation anxiety. However, if the level of anxiety intensifies and it gets in the way of his/her school, then it is safe to say that your child is suffering from separation anxiety disorder and requires professional help.
But nonetheless in the cases of regular anxieties shown by your child you can help him/her get over the traumas by regular intervention and cautious approach. Separation anxiety tends to begin just before the first birthday of the child and also can appear again or in some cases lasts till a child is four years old. In early childhood, reactions to separation in the form of crying, tantrums or clinginess are considered to be healthy reactions to separation. It is normal to feel a little worried and even sad upon parent’s leavening even when your child grows up. However, there are plenty of ways you can ease your child’s separation anxiety by being patient and firmly setting limits.
Ways of Easing Normal Separation Anxiety
If your child is having the normal range of separation anxiety you can follow the steps to make him/her eased with the concept of separation. It is true that under any circumstances, your toddler will prefer your company over anyone else’s. However, it is not feasible for you to be with him/her throughout his/her entire life and that is why you need to make your little one ready for the time, when you won’t be around.
Practice Separation: Start practicing separation when your child is about 9-10 months old. You don’t have to leave him/her behind for hours but even while you are in the surroundings, just let him/her be with the caregiver alone for 30-40 minutes thereby making your child habituated with the fact that they cannot expect your presence all the time. It might feel a bit harsh at the beginning and you also might start hating yourself for doing this, but trust us that in this way only your child will grow-up to be a more confident person.
Schedule Separation After Naps and Feeding: You should make a regular routine of separation just after feeding or just after when they woke up from a good nap. This is due to the fact that babies and toddlers are more susceptible to anxiety when they are hungry or tired (same in the case of tantrums). Once they are properly fed and well rested it is the ideal time that you bid them good-bye for a while.
Prepare a “Good-Bye” Ritual: A proper “good-bye” ritual provides the reassurance to the child that his/her parents are leaving for a while and they will come back. This ritual also keeps them prepared on a daily basis and gradually they accept the fact that the parents will leave on that certain time of the day.
Try to Keep Familiar Surroundings: More anxiety occurs when you need to drop-off your child somewhere else while you go away for work. It is advised that you make him/her carry some familiar objects like his/her favourite soft-toy or a book that you read to him/her so that they can associate some kind of familiarity (giving them the ultimate reassurance that you will come back) when they are away from home.
Try to keep a Consistent Primary Caregiver: Though it is difficult and many times challenging but children having a consistent primary caregiver over a long tenure tend to be more secure and confident.
Leave without Fanfare: Ideally you should leave without hesitation by bidding your child good-bye and telling him/her that you will come back. The more time you spend while lingering on around him/her, the more he/she will expect that you actually do not need to leave in the first place. You mustn’t wait after telling them good-bye and assuring them that you will return.
Strict “No” to Scary Television Programs: Scary scenes and violence shown in television tend to leave deep impact in your child’s mind. While being separated from you, they often tend to fear that something bad might happen to you while you are away and similar television programs showing scenes of violence tend to trigger such thoughts in them.
Never “Give-In”: Sometimes with the amount of crying and tantrums your child will show, you will be tempted to give-in and postpone your departure. However, it gives a wrong message to your child as he/she might take it for granted and never will learn to let you go.
Separation anxieties are challenging to cope with. However, if you remain confident and share that confidence with your child it will eventually help your child to deal with the anxiety and fear of being separated from you. You shouldn’t feel guilty while leaving your child behind as that is the only way you can instil confidence in him/her.