8 Tips to Help With Separation Anxiety

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Teary goodbyes – complete with clinging, screams & tantrums – is common. But as a parent, it can be very upsetting to see your little one so upset to see you go. Here are 8 tips Park Slope Parents has picked up from members who have had to deal with this phase in their child’s development.

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 “My little one has started asking me not to leave for work in the morning & misses me,” writes a PSP member to their group. Does this sound familiar? Here are 8 tips to help with separation anxiety:

 

1) Know that you are not alone. Other parents go through this too.

 

2) And it’s totally normal
Some mothers have gone to say it’s a good thing your child misses you!

 

3) Remind yourself it’s only a phase.
It’s a phase & your child will grow out of it. But as one PSP member warns, "it can last quite a while."

 

4) Rituals can help
Some parents have found that coming up with songs, games, a special greeting or phrase to say when saying goodbyes help. Others have given their child a photo or lovey to help for tears or sadness.  One working PSP mom describes how her son "now carries a picture of us and a lovey that I've instructed him to hug/look at when he misses us. This has helped eliminate the mid-day tears, although not the drop off situation. He actually loves school, it is just the separation issue."
(Be sure to read PSP’s advice for not losing lovey – you don’t want to add that problem to your list of worries too!)

 

5) Say your “I love you’s” BUT whatever you do, don’t give in
As hard as it is, stay calm and firm. Have your kiss and cuddle before you leave and then… leave. Go. It will be tough. Yes. Really tough. But as one working mother advises, once your child realizes that crying & screaming when you leave won’t get them any more attention, they will stop.
As one PSP member shares, "The key is to be firm and to not give in. Slowly they understand that it's not working and try something new.  [Your child] just wants some attention and thinks you want it too.  Once you leave [your child will be] fine so you should shake it off as easily as [your child] does."
According to some experts, kids know that their tantrums affect you & will continue this behavior as a way to avoid separation if they know it works. 

 

6) There are some books & TV programs that you can watch with your children, which some parents found helpfyl

 Book for Kids:
The Invisible String
The Kissing Hand

 

TV programs:
There is even an episode of the PBS show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that has a song “Grown Ups Come Back” which some parents sing when they say Goodbye Watch the video HERE.  As one PSP parent reviews: "We also found having a ritual very helpful.  So every morning we go over the schedule of all the things we will each do until I come home/ pick him up.  And then we sing a little song from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that says "Grown ups come back."  Actually, that episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood really helped.  I guess it made him more aware of the fact that a lot of moms and dads go away during the day."

 

 7) Have a Preschool/ Nanny that your child loves can also help.
Leaving your child with familiar & friendly faces will also help you with the stress of saying goodbyes. Many parents say that knowing their child is with someone kind and loving is a huge relief. Another PSP member describes how her child "loves her preschool and her sitter, and has begun to think of me staying home as a special treat, which makes our days together really fun."

 

8) Finally, know your time together will matter even more

 

Join the PSP Working Mom’s group to talk about your experience as a working parent, share tips and ask for advice