Separation Anxiety & The Stages

Before I talk about this I’m so excited to send you over to Tara over at Noshing with the Nolands!! I’ve done a guest post for her with my new 3 piece meal! Meaning cook one meal and it will give you two other meals throughout the week!!! Yes it will I promise, go check it out!

This is a top that hits this home big time. I always thought it was because I was a SAHM and my daughter was just attached to my hip! Now that my daughter is two and I have friends that are working moms I’ve come to realize that it really is a stage that a lot of children go through. I always want whats best for my child so when she got to be about 16 months old, with a lot of discussion with my husband we put Madison in daycare twice a week, two 8 hour days. I wanted to start writing more and I really wanted her to get more of a social setting. I did everything, I went to Mommy groups, I planned play dates with my friends, I got out once a day to just get out but still to this day when we run into someone we don’t know well she still clings to my leg. The daycare twice a week has really helped. She cried for weeks every time I dropped her off and then after a few weeks she did get better. The teachers learnt to distract her pretty well. Then about 6 months later after a week’s vacation at our summer camp I dropped her off and she started to cry again, I thought it was because we had been on vacation for week, but it continued for another month. I had no idea until reading this article that there are just different stages of it. I don’t know about you but when I read things like this it makes me feel a little better, well it does! It makes me feel better when I know that my child isn’t the only one who is glued to my hip 100% of the time. :) FYI the picture below of the momma cooking and holding her baby, that’s me some days! :)

Here are some tips according to Suzanne Schlosberg at Parenting Magazine:

Separation anxiety can happen almost overnight, which makes it shocking to parents.  What’s more, it’s often not just a one-time, babyhood phase for many kids. The tears and fears related to being apart from Mom or Dad can resurface in the toddler and preschool years, posing new challenges for parents and warranting different solutions. As disheartening as that may sound, it can be very helpful to remember that separation anxiety is completely normal, even healthy. From the earliest years of life, we should want children to encounter ordinary adversity because it’s practice for building resilience. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to minimize your child’s angst, as well as your own, along the way.

Seperation Anxiety

The first strike: babyhood

Though the timing can vary from child to child, separation anxiety typically first hits around 8 months, when babies suddenly grasp that their parents exist apart from them, says Abbot. “Literally, it’s like, boom! They understand you can leave.” They don’t, however, understand that you’re coming back. This anxiety may last several weeks, or even a few months, until your child realizes that you’re not, in fact, abandoning him for life — you’re just going to the bathroom.

How to get through it:

start early  By 6 months, introduce your baby to other regular caregivers, such as relatives or a babysitter. Your child needs practice being away from you, hopefully well before preschool. You want someone else to hold and talk to your kid a little differently. These experiences may minimize her anxiety later on when you’re not around.

keep your goodbye short  A quick “Bye, James, see you this afternoon!” is ideal. Prolonging the departure gives your child the idea that there’s something to be afraid of.  But here’s the really tough part: Try not to let the sobbing lure you back. Reappearing after you’ve left only gives your child incentive to cry harder and longer next time.

match your body language to your words  Your child can sense your confidence as you walk out the door, flash a smile, give a cheerful wave. You’ll be faking it, of course, but she won’t know that yet. She’ll just know that you feel good about who she’s with — and she can, too.

avoid sneaking off  Parents often dash out the door when the child isn’t looking, hoping — understandably! — that this will preempt a meltdown. But that’s tricking your child, and it can break your child’s trust in you. Instead, first ask your caregiver to redirect your child’s attention right after you leave with a favorite toy, a game of peekaboo, or some new music (whatever), then say your quick goodbye.

We as parents are going to get upset when we see our children upset,  but if it’s one thing I’ve learnt is that all of these tricks are good. Being a SAHM it’s not always hard for me to leave, don’t judge here, I love my daughter, but I don’t get the time away everyday that my husband gets. I don’t get to be the fun one that comes home and makes the day cheerier, so when I go out for an appt. a trip to the gym or a night out, I take advantage. I keep my good-bye’s short and I also know my daughter is queen of distraction, it works what can I say and anyone that babysits her on a regular basis knows this. Even her daycare, I feel bad but craft time always starts as we are getting there and Madison is always first in line because the distraction works.

Seperation Anxiety2

The peak: toddlerdom

For some kids, separation anxiety vanishes before toddlerhood; for others, that’s when it starts, peaking sometime between 12 and 24 months and bringing a more potent dose of distress. This is when children develop a strong sense of attachment to the parent. You’ll see tantrums or screaming or hysterical crying. What’s also at play now is their desire to have some control over their lives. They know by now that you’re coming back, but they would prefer that you stick around. And because they also know that wailing will usually get a reaction, they give it their best shot.

How to get through it:

Develop a goodbye ritual  For example, whenever you have to leave your toddler at daycare, give her two kisses and a high-five. The ritual creates order around the departure for both parent and child.

Give your child a small job  When Ilene Siringo’s 23-month-old son, Luca, hit a particularly clingy phase, she started asking him to “shut the door for Mommy” when she left for work. This little responsibility made the transition a lot easier. “He likes to help, and he gets to have control of the door,” says Siringo, an optometrist in New York City. This strategy can also work with kids who get anxious when you have to leave the room. For instance, if you need to get the laundry, give your child a sweater to “fold” until you get back.

Provide an ETA  A child this age doesn’t understand ‘three hours,’ but you can say, ‘I’ll be back after snack time. And do your best to return when promised. It’s tempting to think he won’t know the difference if you’re significantly late, but at some point he will — and you can’t predict when. If you’re heading out for a late night, tell him you’ll see him in the morning.

Remind your toddler that you always return  When Anna Zirker’s twin boys were 2, she put her own twist on this trick: “When they’d say, ‘Mommy, don’t go,’ I’d ask, ‘What does Mommy do when she leaves?’ and they’d say, ‘Mommy comes back.”  Still works every time.

Lucky me has dealt with separation anxiety every step of the way. This is the first time I’ve heard of giving an ETA, I like that idea, though I don’t think my daughter would truly get that yet, I know it’s only a matter of time before she does. It’s funny because when I read about telling your toddler that you always return, I had no idea what I was doing to make myself feel better would also eventually make my child feel better. Every time I leave since they day my daughter was born, I always say “Mommy always comes back.” Now that she’s getting older and understanding more I say: “What does mommy always say??” “I’m always going to come home to you.” I think it will be cute some day when she can actually answer my question. 

Seperation Anxiety4

The relapse: preschool age

For parents, this may be the most exhausting form of separation anxiety. Just when you think your child’s developed a little independence, the tantrums and tears come roaring back, usually thanks to a new stress such as a new sibling, going to school, an illness in the family, or moving to a different house. Fortunately, the anxiety relapse usually lasts only a few weeks, according to experts. With a sibling, it’s about attention. They worry that they come second now, that their parents are going to forget about them. In the case of a new school, the child knows that Mommy will come back but may nonetheless feel unsafe or uncertain without her. Suddenly the child is in an unfamiliar place and isn’t sure whom to trust. Plus, he has to share the attention of the teacher with all these other kids. No wonder some of them get overwhelmed!

How to get through it:

Let your child know it’s okay to feel nervous  Catch yourself if you reflexively say, “Be a big boy.” Instead, give your child a hug and say something like “I know that you’re nervous. Let’s think of another time you were scared but it was okay. Remember the first time in the pool?” You’ll help show him that his feelings are normal — and that he’ll be able to handle them. We’re often so proud of an autonomous child that we don’t fully appreciate that the stepping-stone toward that autonomy involves a decent amount of dependence.

Plan some extra one-on-one time  After Jennifer Lehr brought home her new baby, her 2½-year-old daughter, Jules, threw a fit whenever Lehr had to tend to little Hudson. So Lehr decided to make a point of giving Jules extra attention, especially when she’d fix her meals. “I’d slow down and let her be involved.” “We’d make a smoothie, and Jules would drop in the fruit and pour in the milk and push the button.” Experts say the additional one-on-one time makes the child feel confident in the parent’s love and less threatened.

Develop a predictable bedtime routine  This is a good idea in general, but it can be especially helpful when your child is going through a tough time. It helps show him that there is order in his world. You can even make a poster board listing the exact times of nighttime tasks. For example: 6:00, dinner; 6:20, bath; 6:40, pajamas; 6:45, brush teeth; 6:50, storytime; 7:00, bedtime.

Do your best not to cave in  A preschooler who is experiencing separation anxiety may also regress in other ways, such as asking for her pacifier back or insisting on sleeping with you. When you’re exhausted or fed up, it’s only natural to take the path of least resistance and ease up on the rules you’ve established. But more than anything, a kid needs structure and routine. If you give her Binky back, it’s going to make
it a lot harder to take it away again. Instead of altering the routine, give your child extra hugs and kisses. Plus, by maintaining the sameness, you’re sending the message that there’s nothing wrong. Of course, we all give in sometimes. So if you find yourself being more flexible than you planned, cut yourself slack and try again.

So I’ve had 2 out of three, who is guessing that this will happen to me again!! I like the idea of the one on one time, I always envisioned myself to do this when i have a 2nd child. A predictable bedtime is almost always guaranteed in my home because after 7pm is well………Mommatime! Caving?? Well the only time I’ve seemed to really cave is when it involved sleep because well, everyone loves there sleep! I tend to get a little weak when it has to do with in the middle of the night. Other than that I’m pretty strict, daddy on the other hand……not so much!

****STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT SLEEP ISSUES WITH YOUR LITTLE ONES!!***

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