Separation Anxiety

One of the hardest parts about being a parent is hearing your child scream when you drop them off at daycare. Itís hard to pull away as they wail and beg for you to stay. Also, a screaming child is not easy to care for. You want your child to have the very best care while youíre gone. You donít want his or her caretakers to be overly stressed or emotional. That is why you should do what you can to help your child adjust to your leaving.

It could just be a phase they are going through. However, the way you handle it will determine what lesson they learn from it. Will Mommy eventually give me my way if I just throw a big enough fit? Will I get candy or some other form of bribery if I misbehave? They may be crying because they genuinely believe you are not coming back. Separation anxiety is a genuine fear in most cases. Sometimes, children are mad that you are putting them in that situation and making them feel that fear. You show them how to deal with those emotions in positive ways when you help them with their separation anxiety. It is important to put some thought into the message they are getting by your actions.

Sometimes parents make the mistake of slipping out of the room while the child is distracted. This seems like a good idea. You donít have to deal with screaming. On the other hand, it can give the child a more insecure feeling about being left. They may become even clingier at the transition because they know as soon as they turn their backs, Mommy or Daddy will be gone. It is better to let them know that youíre leaving as you reassure them that you will be back soon, even if it means hearing them cry the first few times.

Bribery is a popular form of relieving separation anxiety. This is when parents give a treat before or during the transition. This may work on very young children, but it seldom helps older children. It is similar to distracting the child and slipping out and will not get to the root of the problem. It doesnít help them deal with fearful emotions. They are crying to get you to stay! They want the power in the situation, not necessarily treats. Treats given after the transition become a reward. If they decide to throw a fit when you drop them off, they will not get a treat when you pick them up. The choice is theirs. They maintain a feeling of some control in the situation.

It may take some time for the child to feel safe about being left places. Sometimes, they need to hear that you will be right back several times. After they have learned that you will come back when you say you will, it will get easier on them.



Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind. Our childrenís welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.

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