Don’t leave me, Mummy!
Separation anxiety is a traumatic experience for everyone – you, your screaming tot and the carer you’ve left in charge. While it may be a normal part of your child’s development, that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. Try our 6 tips to ease the separation pain – for everyone!
It’s wonderful that they love you so much they can’t bear being away from you. But when it’s time to head back to work, or maybe leave them with a sitter for a few hours, and they’re screaming, crying, holding on to your leg or running after you howling, it’s heartbreaking.
Many a parent has sat slumped in the car or the bus, defeated and worn out, after peeling a crying child off them, and leaving them at care or school. The experts call your child’s reaction “separation anxiety”. It can set in as early as 8 months and may wax and wane until school age and beyond.
But it’s important that children learn to separate from their parents. Apparently it’s one of life’s big lessons and it will pave the way to helping children deal with the separations they will face throughout their lives.
Here are some tips to easing the inevitable goodbyes
- Acclimatise your toddler to the new carer: spend some time beforehand with your child getting to know the new carer or child care centre.
- Don’t sneak out: Always say goodbye, even if you have to go while she is upset. This builds trust.
- Home comforts: Let her keep her comforter (dummy, teddy or blanket) if she has one.
- I’ll be back: Tell her when you’ll be back in ways she understands such as "after nap".
- Be reliable: Always come back when you say you will. If for some reason you can’t get back on time, let the carer know, so that she will be able to tell your child what has happened.
- Talk about it: Even if you’re littlie isn’t really chatting yet, talk about what’s happening. There are also many books about separations.
When you get home, make some special time for you and your tot in which you’re not racing around doing housework or making dinner. If your child has to go into care or be left with a sitter again soon, you can remind them of the special time you’ll have together when you get home.
- Separation anxiety tips
- Preparing for a new babysitter
- Conquering shyness
- Understanding shyness
- Why is my child shy?
This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth, Wondertime magazines for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for pregnancy and parenting.
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