Separation anxiety is a normal occurrence us mums sometimes have to deal with when our little ones don’t want to be on their own. And while it can be frustrating at times, remember that it is just a phase.
‘It Is Very Difficult To Cope With’
This mum gives us her top tips on how she dealt with separation anxiety from her two children.
Eugenie Pepper is a mum of two and reveals she suffered terribly from separation anxiety with her kids.
“It is natural for young children to feel anxious when saying goodbye but my kids were always crying and having tantrums,” she tells The Healthy Mummy.
“Even when reassured that separation anxiety is a normal stage of development, it is very difficult to cope with.”
Eugenie, who owns kids clothing company Plum, says she felt like she’d tried everything – she read lots about it – but then ending up turning to a child psychologist for help.
She was advised to try and talk to her kids about their feelings, and soon found she was making progress.
Here Are Eugenie’s Top Tips On How To Deal With Separation Anxiety:
1. Listen And Talk To Your Child
Take time out to try and listen to what your child is feeling.
“The better you understand and can empathise about how your child is feeling, the better you will be at supporting their struggles rather than letting your frustrations out on the them,” she says.
“Talk to other parents who have been through the same thing, find out what they did that worked.”
2. Encourage Them To Get Involved With Other Kids
Try talking to them about what they will be doing when you’re apart and make it sound exciting.
“On arrival to daycare, spend some time to encourage your child to get involved with the other children and activities,” she says.
“Before leaving, try to make sure you settle your child in an enjoyable activity. Easier said than done.”
3. Keep Goodbyes Short
Leave quickly and don’t stall but this, again, is easier said then done.
“I was advised to keep it short and sweet. Be prepared and talk to your child’s teacher and childcare worker as they may have to hold your child so you can make a quick get away,” says Eugenie.
“Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a short hug and special wave and a goodbye kiss. Talk to your child’s caregiver or teacher and get them to help with the disentangling.”
4. Stay Calm
When your patience is wearing thin, try to keep a relaxed and happy look on your face when leaving.
“If you seem worried or sad, your child will get more upset and worry about you. No matter how frustrated you feel, avoid getting angry and criticising or being negative towards your child,” she says.
“When you are stressed and frustrated, your highly sensitive child will pick up on your energy. So try to stay calm.”
5. Let Your Child Take Something From Home With Them
Let your child take something she loves from home, like a teddy bear, pillow, blanket, a photo of mummy, a special bracelet or necklace.
“These objects will help your child feel safer. I would always send notes and drawings for them to read at lunch time,” says Eugenie.
“You can place a note or drawing depending on your child’s age in their lunch box. A note saying ‘I love you and miss you’ or a drawing will reassure your child.”
6. Give Positive Reinforcement To Your Child
“Give recognition by praising your child’s efforts at being independent,” says Eugenie.
“Focus on positive reinforcement and reward your child’s efforts, even a small step in the right direction should be praised.”
When to get help
If crying, tantrums, and clinginess continue for months, it is a good idea to seek help.
“I read as much as I could and I did go to a child psychologist who gave me some good tips,” says Eugenie.
“It was also beneficial for me to just talk about it because it was causing me so much stress myself. I was desperate as my kid’s separation anxiety was so intense.
“For the first couple of years when other kids were being dropped off at parties, I had to hang around to avoid tears and tantrums. Even if I was out of eyesight for a moment this would trigger an emotional outburst.”
Thank you so much Eugenie, these are AWESOME tips! We’re glad to hear all these strategies worked for you and hopefully they will work for our mums too.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety occurs when a child gets upset when separated from a parent or carer.
Separation anxiety is normal during early childhood. It usually starts at about six to eight months of age and lasts until about two and a half to four years of age. Sometimes it can last longer if the child has had any painful separations in the early years. Separation anxiety reflects the child’s attempts to hold on to what is safe in a very scary world, and it will settle down as the child grows older and more confident, says Early Childhood Australia.
For more information on this, click here.
If you or your child is struggling to cope or is suffering from severe anxiety, we advise you speak with your family doctor, psychiatrist, or child psychologist.