- 0-6 Months: Most babies adapt fairly well to different caregivers and adjust well to change.
- 6-8 Months: Babies realize people/parents exist even when out of sight.
- 8-14 Months: Babies are sometimes frightened when they meet new people, and feel threatened and unsafe when separated from their parents.
- 14-24 Months: Usually separation anxiety lessens during this stage, because toddlers begin to understand that parents may be out of sight now, but will return later.
Certain life events can trigger separation anxiety. Any change in experience can awaken separation feelings. These can include:
- Changes in family (death, divorce, new job, etc.)
- Arrival of a new baby
- Starting school or day care
- Bedtime can even feel like a separation
- Going off to camp or school for older children
There are several different things you can do to help your child overcome separation anxiety.
- Talk about changes that may occur, or will be occurring, and the feelings that go along with those changes.
- Encourage your child to put his feelings into words; “Sad”, “Angry”, “Hurt”.
- “Get-acquainted” visits are essential in easing transitions when going into any new situation.
- Be calm & consistent when leaving.
- Assure your child vou will return and be confident when saying
- “goodbye”. Sneaking out is not a good idea. Young children need to know they can trust their parents.
- Leave something with your scent on it like a blanket or a favorite “cuddly”. For older children, a photo of yourself or your family tucked into a pocket might ease anxiety.
- Utilize a trusted caregiver for childcare, such as a relative, if possible
Having strong feelings is healthy in the development of children, even if these feelings are anger or sadness. They teach children independence and the importance of loving attachments. Even though it may seem difficult to leave your child upset at your departure, be assured most children calm down fairly quickly and will be excited to see you when you return!
You know your child best. If he shows signs of being very distraught and/or anxious, it may be necessary to postpone leaving him with others as he gains maturity & confidence. Only you as his parent can determine when this separation is best for you and your child. Talk with your child care provider for other ideas to help in easing the separation and understand “this too shall pass”-eventually!
Leaving your child not only teaches him to learn to cope and master his emotions, he will form the foundation for growing independence