How to deal with separation anxiety
Most parents I know confess that they find it difficult to leave their children at home with a babysitter or at a day care centre or preschool when they are crying and asking them not to go. This article is meant to provide parents like you with suggestions to help you and your child deal with separation anxiety.
They worry about their child and they feel guilty about having to leave them to go to work. They have tried many ways but it seems that most of the time their children still cries. So if nothing seems to work, how do you help your children deal with and overcome separation anxiety?
Teach your child to be independent and self-reliant.
Even at a young age and before it is time for your child to attend day care, enable your child to become independent in some of the things he or she can do by herself like deciding on what to eat, what to wear, what toys to play with, and doing things such as eating, dressing up, manipulating objects or toys.
There is a study which shows that children who suffer separation anxiety most are those who are too dependent on their parents even for the smallest things. So, teaching your child independence will definitely prepare them for that time when you need to leave them temporarily.
Bring your child for a visit at the day care centre or preschool before enrolling him or her.
One of the best ways to think whether your child will be comfortable and would want to be left behind in a day care centre or preschool is to bring him or her there for a visit. If the child likes the place and the people he or she comes to see then you can decide on choosing that day care or preschool. However, if your child is restless or unsettled even during your visit then don’t decide on that right away.
Talk to your child about the temporary separation.
Before leaving for work or before dropping them at a day care or preschool, talk with your child about what to expect. Explain to them that you need to go to work or that you have to leave them at school so they will learn. Tell him or her about what you will be doing while you are away. Explain to them the reasons why you have to go to work and the benefits of being away from each other for the mean time.
Read to your child books about separation to help him or her deal with it.
There are good storybooks about separation anxiety that you can buy and read to him or her. One book is When I Miss You (The Way I Feel Books) by Cornelia Maude Spelman. Books like this will illustrate to him or her that separation is only temporary and that when people separate they will see each other again and they still love each other despite the separation.
Allow your child to bring a comfort object.
If there is an object or thing that helps your child ease her anxiety or discomfort, let him or her bring it. This is one way he or she can cope with her feelings. It might be a stuff toy or a pillow.
Show a positive attitude on bringing your child on his or her first day at the day care centre or pre-school.
If you show that you are anxious of leaving your child at home or at the day care or preschool then most likely your child will also feel that separation anxiety. So, as much as possible never show to your child that you are apprehensive or fearful when bringing and leaving him or her there.
Assure your child that you will see each other again.
Whether you leave your child at home, at a day care or at a preschool, give him or her assurance that you will be coming back so you can be together again. Tell him or her that separation is just temporary.
Decrease time spent inside the classroom gradually.
If your child really cries because he or she doesn’t want you to go, then accompany him to the classroom and sit at the back for the first few days until he gets used to his environment. Then gradually decrease your time sitting inside the classroom. Finally, if you see that he already likes the environment then tell him or her that you are already going out of the classroom.
Develop a routine.
Once it is time to leave, get him or her used to you giving him or her a goodbye kiss and asking him or her to also give you a goodbye kiss and then wave goodbye to each other as you leave. Do not prolong saying goodbye to each other because this might aggravate his or her anxiety over your leaving. Do it as quickly as you can and allow his or her attention to be attracted by other things.
Recognize his or her behaviour for not crying whenever you leave.
You can bring something for him when you see each other. This will encourage him or her to not to cry over your separation. Get to know some of the parents and children at the day care centre or preschool where you are leaving him or her. This is one way to put your mind at ease, knowing that you know the kids whom your child is with and their parents.
So far, these are some of the practical tips I have tried and proven with my own children such that when I or my husband leaves them they do not at all cry.
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