Does your child have separation anxiety? Don’t worry much as most of the kids go through this process. It is important to know that IT IS NORMAL.
What is anxiety separation?
It’s an anxious feeling when separate from someone/thing familiar. This is normally part of a child’s development.
Do your kids have anxiety separation?
Anxiety for children starts the time they reach 4-6 months. This is the time they recognize faces. Most babies would cry whenever they are carried by someone they don’t see that often.
This anxiety accelerates to a different level when they reach 1 year old and would naturally fade away by the time they reach 4 years old. That’s when they start being independent and have more experience socializing with other people. They’ll be more interested in exploring on their own.
Why do kids go through anxiety separation?
In those early childhood, babies assume that their caregiver, usually moms, are a part of their identity. We would usually respond to everything they would need.
Hence, it gives them distress when distant from you or the caregiver. It feels like something within them suddenly is missing.
This doesn’t only apply to people around them. Even new surroundings or even things they are used to can cause them this uncomfortable feeling.
Most parents get frustrated and stressed during this period. We must remember that our kids are in the same position as us.
Here are tips on how to handle Anxiety Separation or what is more known as clinginess:
1. Build up trust
Your child may be young but they have great minds inside them. They can understand well even at a young age. It is important for them to build trust with you.
NEVER leave them in thin air. NEVER leave without saying a proper goodbye. This especially applies when leaving them with their grandparents, aunts/uncles, and eventually, school.
Stick to whatever promise you agreed on. If you tell them you’ll be there by 5:00PM. Be there, no matter what.
This gives them the confidence that the next time you tell them something, they can trust you to come back for them.
2. Wait for it
Every kid is different. If your child takes more time to face independence, then let them be. I assure you they don’t want to feel (clinginess) that way too. It’s just there.
As what has been said again and again, it would naturally go away. Once that happens, I’m sure you’ll be the one missing your little one.
3. Engage with independent play often
One way for your child to build confidence within themselves at home is through playing alone.
This gives them the time away from you. Start by leaving them in their play area with you just on the side. Let them play alone. Eventually try going to the next room for a few minutes. Don’t forget to tell them where you are going and how long you’ll be away.
Do you know that independent play is great in developing creativity? You might feel bad looking at your child playing alone, lonely, but in reality, you’re helping them exercise widening their imagination.
4. Be like a man
Your child adopts your feelings more than you know. Have you noticed that they know when you’re happy or sad? They feel you!
So in times when you start leaving them, try to be brave yourself like a man. Boys don’t cry, isn’t that what they say? With them seeing you having the confidence inside you, they themselves will embrace this feeling of yours as well.
5. Have patience
Knowing how kids grow up very fast, you’ll know that what you’re experiencing is only temporary. It may be frustrating at times, but hey, they’ll only be like that now.
Once they took off, there’s no coming back. Cherish every moment.
6. Stick to a routine
Establish a routine once you’ve established that trust and confidence. This will leave a mark on your child. They’ll know what to look for subsequently after every moment you get separated.
The anxiety they feel would eventually diminish.
7. Talk business
Have a serious talk with your child about your plan. If you are leaving them with someone, have a mental walkthrough of what’s going to happen. This will make them feel assured they know what will happen on that day.
It also makes them feel important as you include them in making the plan. That they are really part of it. It shows you are confident that both of you can do what you’ve planned for.
8. Start at home
Try to practice leaving your child with someone who stays at your home too but usually isn’t around. This person is usually your husband who leaves for work most of the time. Include on your routine some Daddy-time!
Let them play together without you in the room. This also gives you some time to do chores or just mainly for some me-time.
9. You can do it!
Tell this to your child often. YOU CAN DO IT! Make more emphasis by saying it while patting their hands on their shoulder.
Repeating this to themselves when you aren’t around would give them a boost of confidence. They would feel like you’re there also with them saying this which lessens their loneliness.
10. Don’t hang around.
When you start implementing your plan, do not linger around. You’ve already put your child in a depressing situation, don’t add more into it by giving them false information.
Remember that you’ve established that trust already and you’ve said that you’re confident with them doing it. Show them that you mean what you say!
I know that as parents, we’re actually more anxious than our child, but be brave. Show them that you are true to your words.
These tips are helpful in your child’s development as they transition to being independent. Slowly as your child experiences more things in life, they’ll eventually adapt to this new routine that they’ve found.
Anxiety separation is a phase in your child’s life. Difficulty in managing this varies on every child. Learn more on how Master Motherhood with Grace and Ease.
Hope you find this helpful. I’d love to hear from you, please comment below.
P.S. This post is specially dedicated to a good friend of mine, Jenn Rabanal-Baltazar.