Handling a Child With Separation Anxiety
Every parent has experienced this scenario in one form or the other:
you go to drop your child off at day care for the first time or you leave for a
little getaway with your spouse or partner, only to be greeted with your child's
tears, screams and heartbreaking cries of "Mommy!" or "Daddy!". While this
situation can cause even the most resilient parent to become consumed by guilt,
the good news is that this type of behavior is perfectly natural in most
Known as separation anxiety, this behavior is
common in children as young as eight months and can persist up until the early
school years. However, for most parents, handling separation anxiety isn't
exactly a walk in the park! If your child is currently suffering from separation
anxiety, here are a few expert tips that will have your child becoming more
independent - and you feeling a little less guilty!
- Practice Makes Perfect. There's an old saying that basically tells us
that the faster we rip off a band-aid, the more it will hurt - but the pain will
be less prolonged. With children, however, that saying should go straight out
the window! Suddenly leaving your child with strangers for a long period of time
- like with daycare, for example - can be one of the most traumatic experiences
in a young child's life. Instead, help your child get used to separation by
gradually spending more and more time apart. Once your child enters daycare or
school, he or she will adapt more readily to your absence.
- Give Your Child A Memento. Young children often need objects that
provide them security; for example, perhaps your son or daughter has a blanket
or stuffed animal that they keep with them at all times. You can apply this same
thought in order to alleviate separation anxiety - give your child a small photo
of yourself or some other small object that has significant meaning for the both
of you. Tell your child that this object or photo means that you'll always be
- Follow Through! When greeted by your child's tears and heartbreaking
screams, it can often be tempting to give into the guilt and run back to them.
However, you absolutely, under no circumstances, should reward their behavior
with your return: this will only teach them that you'll respond to their tempter
tantrums, and that's difficult behavior to unlearn! Say good-bye firmly, and
don't look back, no matter how much it breaks your heart.
- Reward Good Behavior. Negative behavior should never be reinforced, but
if your child shows progress in overcoming his or her separation anxiety, reward
them with praise and affection. Not only will this encourage your child to
continue overcoming separation anxiety; it will help to remind them that you'll
always come back to them with lots of love and affection!
- Call In A Professional. There are many cases where mild separation
anxiety develops into a full-blown disorder. If you suspect that your child is
suffering from more than a normal case of separation anxiety, ask administrators
and teachers if there are any counseling services offered by the school.
Additionally, consider utilizing the services of a professional child
psychologist, who will be able to teach both you and your child how to
effectively deal with separation anxiety.
Remember, in most cases, separation anxiety is a natural phase in a young
child's life - with your love and encouragement, your son or daughter will soon
overcome this stress and start to lead a more independent life.
by Gareth Williams
Gareth Williams has been an expert in the field of
parenting for well over 25 years and is the author of the highly acclaimed ebook
'Harmony at Home - A Parent's Companion'. If you're interested in learning the
close guarded secrets of the 'Whole Child Aprroach' which will sky rocket your
parenting skills to unparalled success in record time then please visit-http://www.instantparentsuccess.com