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Eliminating Separation Anxiety

by SarahD on October 18, 2010

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Helping Your Child Cope with Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue faced by parents across the globe. Within moments of their arrival on the planet, our little bundles of joy are taught that their parent’s arms are a comforting and safe oasis. From kissing away his “owies” to making certain he had food in his tummy, your child has grown to love and cherish the care you give to him.

Apprehension in the face of potential separation is an entirely natural and logical response on your child’s part, as it simply signals that he is uncertain as to how best to proceed without mommy or daddy guiding him along. Though each child will experience this anxiety to a differing degree, the issue is nearly universal amongst families in the Western world. Fortunately, armed with the right tools and approach, you’ll be able to help your child overcome his uncertainty and ensure that he develops necessary socialization skills.

One of the most important keys in eliminating separation anxiety is understanding the emotional and physical state your child is in when separation is to occur. For example, a baby that is already hungry and sleepy is much more likely to cry and fuss when separated from his parent. Likewise, toddlers who have missed their afternoon nap or didn’t get their daily snack may be more prone to throw tantrums or melt down when mommy or daddy disappears. The emotional responses to their physical needs are only compounded by the sudden change in situation, elevating the likelihood of a negative response. By ensuring that your child has been well-cared for, you’ll eliminate unwanted emotional triggers.

Another important key to remember is that separation should occur gradually, rather than suddenly. If possible, spend time together with your childcare provider and your child. This will allow your child to become comfortable with someone else, all the while being reassured by your presence. If this isn’t possible, try spending short periods of time away from him. For example, ask a babysitter to care for your child for an hour or less, as you run errands around town. Gradual increases in the amount of time you spend apart will allow your child to become comfortable at a manageable pace.

Your behavior when leaving your child behind is another important factor to consider. Separation is often difficult for parents as well, but if you feel emotional, try to stifle any reactions that may scare your child. If mommy starts to cry as she leaves her baby, your child may suddenly fear that something negative is about to occur. By maintaining a calm composure, you’ll be reassuring your little one that everything is alright.

It is also important to remain consistent with what you tell your child. If you say goodbye to him and sneak off into the other room, only to return when he begins crying, you’ll be teaching him that tears will bring back his parent. Though it can be a challenge to stay away when your parental instincts kick in, reassure yourself that your childcare provider knows what he or she is doing. Returning to the child will only complicate future attempts to separate with your child.

Though spending time away from your children can be difficult for both parties, it is important for both parent and child to be accustomed to being apart. By approaching the situation in the correct manner, your child should be able to overcome separation anxiety with little problem. The entire process can be draining and difficult, but remaining consistent in your attempts should prove fruitful in the long term.

Sarah Danielson is a writer for Seduction where you can find great tips and advice about the art of seducing your partner.

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