How to help your child with Separation anxiety
Both my children suffered terribly from separation anxiety. I read lots tried everything and then finally spoke to a child psychologist.
It is natural for young children to feel anxious when saying goodbye but my kids were always crying and having tantrums. Even when reassured that separation anxiety is a normal stage of development it is very difficult to cope with. I have a background in counselling so I understand the importance of being empathic to the child in supporting them through the anxiety and help them build resilience.
On arrival to daycare spend some time to encourage your child to get involved with the other children and activities. Before leaving try to make sure your child is settle your child in an enjoyable activity before you leave again easier said than done.
The goodbye ritual is a starting point but try to keep it short and sweet. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a short hug and special wave and a goodbye kiss. Talk to your child’s care give or teacher and get them to help with the disentangling.
I was advised to keep it short and sweet. Leave quickly and don’t stall but this is easier said then done. 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.
Even 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. When you are stressed and frustrated you highly sensitive will pick up on your energy. So try to stay calm.
Let your child take something she loves from home, like a teddy bear, pillow or blanket a photo of mummy or a special bracket or necklace. These objects will help your child feel safer. I would always send notes and drawing for your child to read at lunch time. You can place a note or drawing depending on age for your child their lunch box. “I love you and miss you can or a drawing will reassure your child.
When to get help
If crying, tantrums, and clinginess continued for weeks and months it is a good idea to seek help. I read as much as I could on how to help your child with separation anxiety and I did go to a child psychologist who gave me some good tips. If was also beneficial for me just to talk about 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.
Separation anxiety occurs because a child feels unsafe in some way. For my son he was being baby sat by my dad and my dad when outside to water the garden and did not tell Tommy. Tommy thought he was left at there home alone. I have no idea how long my dad left him alone in their big old house but he had never forgotten the fear.
How to help your child with separation anxiety can be as simple as listening to your child and respecting their feelings as being listened to can have a powerful healing effect. Give your child the time to talk about their feelings. Give recognition by praising your child’s efforts at being independent. Focus on positive reinforcement. Reward your child’s efforts even small step in the right direction should be praised.
Learn as much as you can to Educate yourself about separation anxiety. The better you understand and can emphasis about how your child is feeling you can the better you will be at supporting their struggles rather than letting your frustrations out on the them. Talk to other parent who have been through the same thing, find out what they did that worked.