Separation Anxiety in Toddlers: A Parent’s Guide
As you leave the room, does your child weep or cling to you? She might be anxious about being separated from him. To assist your child in adjusting to life without you, learn to recognize the warning signals.
Farewells may be difficult, whether you’re sending your child off at daycare or leaving her with Grandma. Your toddler has a good grasp of object permanence—the idea that something exists even if it can’t be seen or heard (even Mom and Dad).
Toddlers, on the other hand, are still unable to grasp the idea of time. For them, it doesn’t matter if you leave them in their room for a few minutes or a few hours. When a toddler believes that his or her survival is dependent on the presence of a primary caregiver, this might be a frightening thought.
Anxiety, ironically, can be a sign of a child’s growing independence.
As a result, they are attempting to exert authority over the situation by arguing that the parents should remain on site.
What Sets Off Toddlers’ Separation Anxiety?
Children and toddlers may experience separation anxiety in the following situations.
It’s hard to say goodbye to a toddler because they are constantly trying to gain greater control over their physical bodies (think running and feeding themselves). As a result, kids are torn between resenting their separation from their parents and missing them. Reassurance that you will return when you leave is essential for toddlers.
Taking your toddler to a huge event can be particularly stressful for him or her, since he or she may be worried about getting lost in the crowd.
Sleeping: Leaving your kid in her room at night or for a nap can inspire concern because these are probably the longest periods of alone time she usually experiences.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Between eight and eighteen months, separation anxiety is most common. When a caregiver is about to leave, the symptoms usually begin. It is possible that children will try to keep their parents from leaving by clinging, throwing a tantrum, or resisting other caretakers. When a parent is out of the room or the child is left alone at bedtime or daycare, he may display signs of anxiety and restlessness.
When the caregiver is out of sight, the tantrums normally calm down. The child’s fear of being separated from the one who loves and protects him serves to keep him close to the caregiver.
How Do Toddlers Overcome Their Fear of Separation?
As a child gets older, separation anxiety tends to lessen, but it can resurface for brief periods of time for other reasons. If an older child is ill or anxious, separation anxiety can be reactivated. Children may cling to their parents at drop-off if they are feeling unwell or are experiencing a stressful situation.
You can rest certain that this behavior is typical and will go away on its own. Separation anxiety can arise at any stage in a child’s life, and no one can say with certainty when it will do so. Be prepared for regression, especially when routines alter due to vacation, illness, or a move, as it may take months for a child’s fear to dissipate.
When Should I Be Afraid?
Even while it’s heartbreaking to hear a youngster sob, keep in mind that separation anxiety can be a sign of a strong link between a child and caregiver.
Keep an eye on your child to determine if her separation anxiety becomes excessive. Consider the context in which your child’s sentiments are expressed. Is there a problem with the child-care setting, or is there a quarrel between the parents? Separation anxiety may be exacerbated if this is the case. The first step in dealing with an overly ill child is to make an appointment with your pediatrician.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: How to Deal with It
If your child is suffering from separation anxiety, there are several things you may do to help ease their symptoms. Use these suggestions to put an end to your child’s anxiety.
Keep your farewells to a minimum. Always let your child know in advance if you’ll be dropping her off or sending someone to watch her, and say your goodbyes quickly. Clinginess can increase if she thinks you’re going to go without warning, so avoid sneaking out of the house. Try to make it clear that the breakup is only for a short period of time.
Begin the process of creating a goodbye ritual. Creating a very short process routine can be beneficial. Leave with a hug for your youngster. To ease the adjustment from being with you to being without you, it’s best to maintain the parting rituals the same every time.
Make a game plan. As you drop your child off at the sitter’s or daycares, have an activity ready for them to do. A clapping game or new toy can distract her from the notion that you’re going.
Don’t dismiss her concerns. Try to understand your child’s fear of being separated from you.
When you’re at a large event, pay attention to your child. Avoid forcing your toddler to interact without you when you arrive somewhere with a lot of people. Don’t just walk away if he lets someone entertain him; instead, wait for him to take an interest in others.
Establish a calming nighttime ritual. Taking a bath and listening to music or a story before going to bed might help set the mood for a restful night’s sleep. For her, this will enable her to get used to the thought that it’s finally bedtime and time to be alone. Give your child a teddy bear to cuddle and turn on a CD of ocean waves to help soothe them. As a result, your absence will not be as noticeable in her room as before.
After a snooze, let her go. If she’s contentedly playing in her crib when she wakes up from sleep, don’t hurry in to retrieve her. Do not deprive your youngster of the chance to enjoy herself on her own. In the long run, it will help her feel more secure in her own skin and improve her confidence and independence.