SEPARATION ANXIETY

Making goodbyes easier

Teary and tantrum filled goodbyes are a common part of a child’s early years. Understanding what your child is going through and having a few coping strategies can help both of you get through it.


What can trigger separation anxiety?

As children grow into the more independent toddler phase, he/she will be even more uncertain about being separated from you. This is leaving your child results in you crying, clinging to you and resisting attention from others. The timing of separation anxiety varies widely from child to child. Some go through it between 18-24 months and some never experience it, whilst others only show it at times of stress such as changing schools, a new sibling, moving house, or tension at home (a major cause). The timing of separation anxiety depends on your child and how you respond.

How does separation anxiety affect your emotions?

You might experience different emotions. It can be gratifying to think that your child is so attached to you but it is more likely that you will feel (unnecessarily) guilty. Keep in mind that your little one’s unwillingness to leave you is a good sign that healthy attachments have developed between the two of you. Remember that children do understand the effect that this behaviour has on you. If you come running into the room every time your child cries and then stay there longer or take them into church with you, your child will continue to use this tactic to avoid separation.

Steps to help making your goodbye easier


Step 1: 

Timing is everything. A happy and well-rested child will settle easier.


Step 2: 

Practice being apart from each other and introduce new places gradually. This may mean staying in Grace Kids with them for your first few visits.


Step 3: 

Be calm and consistent. Stay calm and show confidence in your child and his/her surroundings. Smile! Reassure your child that you will be back using concepts that he/she will understand, e.g. “I’ll be back after snack time”.


Step 4: 

Leave without fanfare. Once you have said goodbye go… do not stall.


Step 5: 

Follow through on promises by coming straight through to Grace Kids to collect your child immediately after the service.


Step 6: 

Collect your child as calmly as you dropped them off and praise them for being good while they were away from you.


Remind yourself that although the experience might seem unsettling separation anxiety gives your child a chance to develop coping skills and a little independence.