Separation anxiety is a normal stage in all infant and toddler’s development. They spend all day with your beautiful face, Mama, so of course they’re going to be upset when you’re not around.
Separation anxiety can apply to a lot of different areas in your lives, it can be when you need to leave to go to work, when you do drop off at school, when it’s time to go to bed. And while extreme separation anxiety can be unhealthy for both Mom and child, here are some helpful tips to help you help your child deal with your absence.
DO: Do talk to your kids. Let them know what’s going on. “Mommy is going to leave for work now, but I’ll be back to pick you up after school like I do every day.” It’s a simple sentence telling them what’s happening during the day when you’re gone, but it’s a powerful sentence. It’s important to follow up on your promises when they have really bad separation anxiety. If you say you’re going to pick them up after school, be on time.
DON’T: Don’t bring up your absence in a way that will worry them. An example of this would be, “Are you nervous?” or “Are you upset Mommy is leaving?” Kids learn from us. If you seem nervous and anxious and bring it up, it’ll cause them to be nervous and anxious.
DO: Do create a healthy goodbye routine and stick with it. A hug and a kiss and maybe some nose kisses is the perfect way to part. Remind them again that you’ll be back and leave right after.
DON’T: Don’t linger around after you say goodbye. You just told your child you’re leaving, why are you still lingering around? I know you want to make sure they’re ok, but hanging out just tells them that you’re goodbyes aren’t real.
DO: Do leave a comfort object from home to help them feel comfortable. Does your child absolutely love their spotted doggy stuffed animal? Then guess what? It’s going to school with them! Small comfort objects can really help with separation anxiety. Scared they’ll lose it? Buy a backup just in case and leave that one at home hidden away somewhere.
DON’T: DO NOT SNEAK OUT! This is the absolute worst thing you can do for a child with separation anxiety. If they’re distracted for a second and suddenly you’ve disappeared into thin air, this can deepen their level of separation anxiety. You just assured your child that if they take their eyes off you for a second, pooof, you’re gone.
DO: Do keep calm so they can stay calm. Remember, you’re your child’s #1 teacher, they’ll learn behaviors from you.