Having trouble dropping your little one of at playdates, activities or daycare? Although it may seem like the other kids are happily stress-free while your child clings to you, separation anxiety is an extremely common phase. Even though your kid used to be perfectly happy to be left anywhere, suddenly the idea of being apart from you becomes terrifying. Fortunately there are a few tricks you can try to ensure that any periods of separation anxiety are as short as possible.
Practice makes perfect!
It’s an obvious starting point, but keeping on trying with periods of separation will pay off in the long term. After all, your child won’t learn that she’s fine without you if you don’t give her a chance!
Build it up slowly
The trick with beating separation anxiety is to get your child to realise that when you do leave him alone you’ll always come back eventually. To begin, you may want to just leave your child for a few minutes (obviously under proper adult supervision). Be sure to tell him you’re going and announce that you’re back each time and he will eventually grow accustomed to the idea of being apart, at which point you can increase the amounts of time you’re gone.
Keep calm and carry on!
It goes without saying that your child can pick up very easily on your moods, and if you’re tense or anxious about leaving her it will just make matters worse. Staying calm will minimise any tantrums, and if you can avoid things like looking back over your shoulder as you leave it will make the experience seem that much less traumatic for both of you.
Choose your moment
Of course there are times when you won’t have this luxury, but you’ll find that your child may be more prone to separation anxiety at certain times of the day. If you can, leaving after some food and/or a nap will help a lot, as a rested, full child is far less likely to make a fuss!
Establish a ritual
We’ve already mentioned in passing announcing when you’re leaving and returning, and this is because it helps make the routine of you leaving and then returning more familiar. Add whatever you want to the leaving and returning ritual: a kiss, a hug, passing your child their favourite toy just before you go.Children learn through repetition and, as long as you’re consistent, the routine will go a long way towards calming you little one’s nerves.
Don’t give up!
In all honesty, if you’re trying to battle through this, things do sometimes get worse before they get better. Children can be stubborn little people, and yours will no doubt do all they can to test your resolve and get their own way. As long as you don’t constantly give in, stay firm and above all consistent, they will begin to accept that sometimes you will need to leave them, and learn that you will always return. Eventually the anxiety will fade, and those days of dreading having to do something without your little one attached to you will seem like a distant memory.
More ways to get through tough parenting times:
- 9 Tricks to Raising Twins (& Staying Sane)
- 10 Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Potty Train
- How to Survive a Sick Day