Its 8 am and you are running just a little bit behind getting out the door this morning. You grab your purse, your keys and go to give your child a hug and kiss before you are on your way. The only problem is that today when you begin to pull out of that cherished embrace, your baby begins to cry, scream, and yell. The scenario leaves you feeling guilty and stressed, shouting apologies to the nanny as you peel yourself away leaving her with a child in the throws of a full on tantrum. Sound familiar? You are not alone! Separation anxiety can begin in kids as young as 7 months. Some won’t experience it until they are 24 months or older, and some never will.Thankfully there are a few ways parents can help their child to overcome this instinctual reaction.
Though your child is becomes familiar with object permanence around 5-7 months, help to reinforce this development with games like peekaboo, and rhymes like 2 Little Dicky Birds or where is Thumbkin.
Another great way to help your child is talking it out! Explain to your child that you are only going to work/an errand/etc. Acknowledge the fears that are being expressed, and reassure him or her that you will be back.
Don’t sneak out! Make sure to say goodbye and explain where you are going. A child that suddenly notices your absence is going to have a much harder time getting over it, than a child that has heard from your own mouth that you will return.
Stay as calm as possible. If your child sees you getting upset, he or she is bound to get more worked up. Use a soothing voice, casually give a kiss goodbye, and walk out the door.
Dealing with a child struggling with separation anxiety can be challenging, but these tools can help you overcome it as a team!