If your little one desperately clings to you when you leave or appears to be in a near panic when you aren’t in the room, you’re probably dealing with separation anxiety. On a basic level, children know that their survival depends on you, so the idea that you’ll be somewhere else is terrifying. They can’t understand that you’ll just be in the bathroom for a moment, so they panic.
Separation anxiety, while painful, is evidence that your child is becoming aware of the world and his place in it. He/she has desires and they express them. Take it as a sign that your child is growing up and going through a healthy developmental phase.
Still, separation anxiety can be tough on children and parents alike. Here are some tips that will help.
1. Practice the separation – Leave your child with a caregiver for short periods at a time. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. For example, the first time, just take a walk around the block. Then, pop out for a quick errand. Before you know it, the leaving won’t be painful.
2. Know that your child will grow out of it – Separation anxiety doesn’t last forever. Eventually your child learns enough to understand that you aren’t leaving for good. So even if you can’t find a solution to ease your child’s stress, know it won’t last forever
3. Develop a ritual – A goodbye ritual is a great way to ease the tension by performing something your child can expect. If you go through the same ritual each time and then return later, your child will understand that the reappearing is part of the ritual.
4. Make the surroundings familiar – Whenever you can, leave your child in a familiar places, whether this is the home of a caregiver or a daycare facility. After a while your child will associate that place with safety and not fear your absence.
5. Make goodbyes quick – Do not drag out a goodbye with long hugs and kisses. This lets your child believe that if they just work hard enough, they can keep you around. Your goodbye ritual should be short and quick.
6. Separate after feedings and naps – Children are more susceptible to anxiety when they are tired of hunger – basically, when they have needs to be met. Try to separate during a time when you’ve met all their needs and they are happy so they associate your leaving with positive feelings.
Have you ever dealt with separation anxiety? How did you help your child overcome it?
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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