As a young parent, your newborn will not mind whether they are being cared for by you or someone else like a relative or even a stranger. However, once they reach infancy, they begin to attach feelings of comfort towards certain people such “mommy” or “daddy”. By this age infants realize you still exist even if they can’t see you. Thus, if you’re out of sight, children will not know when you will be back as they haven’t fully grasped the concept of time yet. This can create separation anxiety which usually leads to tantrums and crying. By this time, it is common for you to experience some separation anxiety as well. After all, it’s YOUR child crying for you to stay. So here are some tips to ease separation anxiety not just for your child but for you as well.
For the child
Leaving at the appropriate time- We tend to be more emotional if you’re tired or hungry and the same applies to your child. I would recommend only leaving after you your child is well fed and well rested. Nothing could be scarier for a child than waking up to their parent missing.
Practice- Give your child more practice to be alone such as explaining concepts of time to them in a child-friendly manner such as: “I will be back before dinner”. Also playing games like hide and seek will allow children to think on their own with temporary limited supervision.
Ease their transition- If you’re sending them to something like a daycare where there is a set schedule of attendance, you can ease them in by staying with them a portion of the time at the daycare and slowly reel back until your child is okay with being at the daycare alone.
Be consistent/uphold promises- Believe it or not, children are very big on honesty! If you promise you will be by their side by a certain time, uphold that promise to the best of your abilities! If you promise to be home by a certain time and you make your child wait for an extra 2 hours, this can not only lead to distrust but trauma as well.
For the parent
Realize growth- It is important to understand that this is a natural part of growing up, not just for your child but for you as well, both have taken a huge step. Only leave your child with people you trust- I personally don’t trust babysitters to watch my children and really only rely on licensed daycares. Even if I have last second plans and didn’t have a daycare arrangement already, I use apps like Kinderdrop to let me do last second daycare bookings instead of calling the neighborhood babysitter.
Separation anxiety can be a big issue, but with enough practice, respect, and affection, you and your child can overcome it.