On Separation Anxiety

Karen Cheong with some great advice for parents of young children: It is natural for young children to feel anxious when you drop them off at the nursery or say goodbye.  Although this can be very difficult for parents, it is a normal stage of development.  With understanding, patience, love, faith and trust, it can be relieved and should lessen and fade as your child gets older.

In the early stages of childhood, crying, tantrums or clinging to father and mother are actually healthy reactions to separation.  Separation anxiety can begin before a child’s first birthday and pop up again or last until a child is four years old, but both the intensity level and timing of separation anxiety vary tremendously from child to child.  One way you, as the parent, can ease your child’s anxiety is by staying patient, loving, and consistent and by gently and firmly setting limits.

General Guidelines for Easing Separation Anxiety:

  1. Develop a “good bye” ritual. Rituals can bring reassurance to your child and can be as simple as a kiss bye or a wave.
  2. Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will be back soon, then go—don’t stall, just go!
  3. Practice leaving your child. Leave your child with someone for a brief period at first to help him/her experience your leaving and returning.
  4. Keep familiar “things” when possible and make new surroundings familiar to your child. When your child is away from home or a familiar surrounding, allow them to have a “lovey” or favorite blanket for comfort.  Visit the unfamiliar location so your child can see where they may be going to be left with a caregiver.
  5. Try not to give in. Always reassure your child that you will return and he/she will be just fine and will have fun—setting limits will help the adjustment to separation.

Read the rest as she offers some good tips for preparing your children for Sunday morning.