Many children struggle with separation anxiety, some suddenly developing it after years of not caring if their parents or guardians leave the room. Some children who seem to get over their separation anxiety can shock you if their anxiety resurfaces in their toddler years, or even later. It can be frustrating to deal with the tantrums, clinginess and tears of a child who does not want to leave you even for a second, but separation anxiety can be a healthy way for your child to develop independence. In the next series of articles, we’ll give you tips at tricks to help manage your kid’s separation anxiety, starting with managing it in young babies.
Separation anxiety tends to surface between the first 6 to 8 months of a child’s life, once they are aware that they have parents who can exist without them. The trigger to this anxiety is the realization that you can leave at any moment, but the baby doesn’t understand that you are coming back. This fear of abandonment will likely last until they realize that they don’t need to worry about you never coming back.
Tips to Make Separation Anxiety Easier
One way to combat separation anxiety is by exposing your young child to a variety of people, including letting others look after them regularly. These people can be grandparents, aunts or uncles, older siblings, or babysitters. You want to get your child used to being away from you before they start school, and you want them to trust other caretakers when you’re not around. It is also important to keep your goodbyes quick after you leave your child with someone else, so that they don’t feel like you’re prolonging your goodbye because you’re not coming back.
Do not come back to comfort your child after your first goodbye, because this just shows them that crying will make you come back to them. Just keep smiling and wave to them, so they know that what’s happening isn’t bad. And don’t slink off, either! Your child needs to know you’re leaving, otherwise they will constantly fear that you’re abandoning them when you’re not in their sight. Whoever is looking after your baby can distract your child once you leave, but make sure your child knows you’re leaving in the first place.