Categorized | Parenting, Toddler Behaviour

Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Toddlers

It is normal for toddlers to feel anxious when parents have to leave, even moms and dads feel sad about it. Although it is not easy, parents can help toddlers overcome separation anxiety with a little patience and understanding. Here is how to do it.

What Causes It

Separation anxiety begins at around 6 months of age and can last until 4 years of age. This is normal and it usually goes away  as he grows older. However, there are some toddlers who experience prolonged or re-occurrence of extreme separation anxiety which can interfere with their development, social interaction and personality or worse, lead to a disorder. This is alarming so it is best to counteract it as early as possible.

Ways to Handle It

Practice

Make the transition easier by training your baby early. Leave your toddler under the care of someone you trust (e.g. babysitter or relative) babysitter for brief periods and short distances at first. For example, you can leave your little one with your caregiver while you run errands, grocery shop or have lunch with your friends.

Include other people. Look for activities that require the participation of others. If your toddler wants you to read him a book, include his siblings. If he wants to play outside, invite your neighbor’s kids. In this way, you get to train your baby without pressuring him too much. He will not even notice it because he is having fun.

Prepare Your Toddler Ahead of Time

Talk about your departure a few days before the said event. Make sure your toddler knows when and where you will be going, what you need to do and when you will be back. Let him know who is going to watch over him and what activities he can do while you are away. Remind him about it the night before or in the morning while having breakfast. If you have work that requires you to be out for a day, say “Mommy has to go somewhere for work, but you do not have to be sad since you get to spend time with your aunt and cousins and visit the amusement park. That would be so much fun don’t you think? Let us talk about your adventures during dinner, okay sweetie?”.

Have A Separation Ritual

Create a “goodbye ritual”. Instead of sneaking out of the house while he is distracted just so you can prevent the tears, wave bye-bye, hug, give him a kiss and assure him you will be back in no time and go. Rituals are reassuring as they make toddlers feel safe, loved and protected. Plus, it will not make your toddler think you might disappear without prior notice which will only make him scared and increase his separation anxiety.

Offer A Security Object

Giving your toddler a reminder of mommy and daddy may help him deal with your absence and give him solace. Each time you go out and leave him, give him something which will remind him of you. Make sure it is special – a book you read him every night, a teddy bear, your old shirt or a blanket you made especially for him.

Keep Him Busy

Provide a distraction. Engage your toddler and his caregiver in an activity before you leave. When the time comes for you to go, give your toddler a quick goodbye kiss and hug and leave. He may cry for a while but the activity can keep him entertained while you are away.

Bear in mind that your toddler is an individual and not merely an extension of you. Work on establishing your child’s independence and sense of self to help him understand that.

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