Four Ways Your Child Can Overcome Separation Anxiety
Most children express separation anxiety to some degree. Some children exhibit separation anxiety by becoming clingy, while others cry or have tantrums. As the caregiver, it is important to remember that a youngster’s reluctance to being separated from a caregiver is perfectly natural. Still, the journey toward individualization that separation anxiety is part of can be a bit scary and stressful—both for your child and for you.
Are you and your child dealing with separation anxiety? Mt. Elizabeth Academy’s experts share 4 ways that you can help alleviate some of the stress of separation anxiety.
In order to accustom your child to your absence, it will help to have mini-separations. Practice leaving your child in the watch of a caregiver for small amounts of time, slowly increasing the length of time you are gone. Tip: There is comfort in consistency, so try to leave your child with the same caregiver for the first few mini-separations. Then, you can change the pattern and remind your child that this brief time with a new caregiver will be very similar to spending time with the previous caregiver.
When it is time to leave, especially for first-time parents, it is important not to drag out your exit. Make a quick goodbye between you and your children the norm. Let them know you will be gone and that you will return, then follow through with your promise. The more your children see you fulfilling your word, the more relaxed they will be at your departures. Remember not to change your plans just because of pouting or crying. It may be difficult to leave your children, but you are not abandoning them. They will learn this best through your steadfastness to your word and your inevitable return. They should not learn that pouting or crying is the way to get what they want. Tip: For infants, the best window of time for your exit is after naps and feeding. Once their immediate needs are satisfied, their reaction to your leaving will be better managed.
Keep It Casual.
It will also help ease your child’s worry if you keep her environment comfortable and familiar when you have to be away. For example, you could have the babysitter come to your house rather than drop off your child at the sitter’s. The surrounding home will maintain a sense of stability and consistency for your youngster. When your child has to be with caregivers outside your home, encourage your child to carry a familiar object or toy with her. This can be especially helpful on vacations or first-time trips. Do what you can to show her that she can find comfort, even if you happen to be gone for the moment.
Take a Breather.
Another important step parents often skip over is monitoring their own stress levels. If you are burning the candle at both ends constantly, it is bound to come across to your child and only increase his own stress. Do not forget to do something for yourself now and again. Schedule time with friends, get some time away to finish that novel you set down forever ago. It is always in your child’s best interest to keep your own anxiety in check so that you are not stressed when it s time to leave your child with other caregivers.
In most cases, a little patience, care, and consistency is all it takes to help your child overcome this form of anxiety.