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Posts Tagged ‘Separation Anxiety’

Tips to Avoid Separation Anxiety in Infants

Infant Boy BSeparation anxiety is difficult for everyone involved. The baby sobs, the parents feel guilty for leaving and the caregivers have the near-impossible task of calming the infant down. Thankfully, there are a few techniques to prevent separation anxiety.

  • Say ‘Goodbye’ and Go – One of the worst things you can do is to linger around for an extra five minutes with your infant. It gives your infant the feeling that the person he or she is staying with is not trustworthy. Then, if you’re lured back into the room, the infant might have an even worse reaction than the time before.
  •  Don’t Sneak Out – Although this may seem like the best thing to, it can damage your relationship with your child. You shouldn’t trick your child into thinking you’re still there when you’ve already made it into work. When the child realizes you’re not there, it can provoke a meltdown.
  • Put on a Happy Face – Your child needs to know that you feel good about leaving him or her with the caregiver. Even if you’re sad to leave your child, the child should believe that you’re confident as you head out the door.
  •  Start Early – Unless you can be with your baby at all times, it’s a good idea to familiarize him or her with other caregivers from as early as six months old. Practicing the separation is important and will also make going into preschool a bit easier. If you have a lot of family members willing to watch your baby, they could be good resources.

These tips are not guaranteed. Separation anxiety can happen to any child at any time, but there’s no harm in preparing your child for the future.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common element of early childhood development.  Though it is perfectly normal, it can be upsetting to parents and children.

Separation anxiety typically begins around a child’s first birthday and can persist until the child is two-and-a-half years old.  It is important to note that a child’s unwillingness to leave a parent is actually a positive sign of a healthy parent/child relationship.

The following strategies may help families manage separation anxiety:

  • Practice being apart from one other and introduce new people and places slowly.  Make a few visits to your preschool/childcare center before your scheduled start date.  This allows your child to adjust to the idea that you and he will be away from one another.
  • Explain how long it will be before you will return.  Use concepts that your child will understand (e.g., at lunch or after naptime).  It is extremely important that you follow through on your promises.  You should return when you say you will.
  • Be calm and consistent.  Resist the urge to run back to your child at the sight of her tears.  It’s as essential to create a ‘separation routine’ as it is to reassure your child that you will return.  Work with your child’s teacher to establish this routine and have confidence that your child’s teacher has the ability to handle the situation.  After you’ve said your goodbyes, most teachers will probably engage your child in an activity or with a toy so you can depart.
  • For your sake, establish a time to call the school to check on your child’s well-being.  By the time you make this call, your child will most likely have calmed down and adjusted to the day’s routine.
  • You may also want to check with your school’s policy regarding a doll or blanket from home.  These comfort items may assist with transitions.