Separation anxiety in children is a normal part of their childhood development. This is especially true in younger kids. Even then, it can be unsettling. Separation anxiety in children varies widely among them. Some babies become hysterical when you’re out of sight for a very short time. Some other children seem to demonstrate ongoing anxiety at separations during infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. Between 8 and 14 months old, kids often go through a phase when they are “clingy” and afraid of unfamiliar people and places.
Surviving Separation Anxiety as a Working Mom
The trick for surviving separation anxiety demands preparation, brisk transitions, and time. Parents suffer as much as their children do when they leave. You’re often reminded that your children stop crying within minutes of your leaving. But you still feel like you’re doing it all wrong when your child clings to your legs, sobs for you to stay, and mourns the parting.
As a working mum, separation anxiety creates questions for you. While it’s an entirely normal behaviour and a beautiful sign of a meaningful attachment, separation anxiety can be exquisitely unsettling for both baby and mummy.
How to Ease Separation Anxiety
- Create quick goodbye rituals.
Even if you have to do major hand movements, give triple kisses at the door. Or provide a special blanket or toy as you leave, keep the good-bye short and sweet. If you linger, the transition time does too. So will the anxiety.
- Be consistent.
Try to do the same drop-off with the same ritual at the same time each day you separate. Do it to avoid unexpected factors whenever you can. A routine can diminish the heartache and will allow your child to simultaneously build trust in her independence and in you.
When separating, give your child full attention, be loving, and provide affection. Then say good-bye quickly despite her antics or cries for you to stay.
- Keep your promise.
You’ll build trust and independence as your child becomes confident in her ability to be without you when you stick to your promise of return. The biggest mistake you could make in this regard is returning to class to “visit” your son after a terrible transition. Although your return is well intended, you’ll not only extend the separation anxiety, you’ll start all over again in the process.
- Be specific, child style.
When you discuss your return, provide specifics that your child understands. If you know you’ll be back by 3:00 pm, tell it to your child on his terms. For example, say, “I’ll be back after nap time and before afternoon snack.” Define time he can understand. Talk about your return from a business trip in terms of “sleeps.” Instead of saying, “I’ll be home in 3 days,” say, “I’ll be home after 3 sleeps.”
- Practice being apart.
Ship the children off to grandma’s home, schedule playdates, allow friends and family to provide child care for you (even for an hour) on the weekend. Before starting child care or preschool, practice going to school and your good-bye ritual before you even have to part ways. Give your child a chance to prepare, experience, and thrive in your absence!
Source: Africa Parent