Your child is playing with a favourite toy and you are in the same room. The phone rings and you duck out to get it. You hear your child screaming for you the moment you pick up the phone.
You are getting your child in the car seat for the school, or you could be taking her to the bus stop. Everything is fine until the point of separation arrives. You child clings to you and cries woefully making your heart bleed, as you turn away and hoping she will be fine soon.
Both the scenarios are classic examples of separation anxiety. Your little one is struggling between his need for independence and his eternal bond with you, his mother, who was his very lifeline for 9 months. While children at this age are curious about new experiences and things around them, they want to experience all that from the warmth and safety of their mother’s embrace or presence.
So what can you do to help your child ease out of separation anxiety? Here are a few pointers that will help you along the way:
1. Start out small. Let them play in the living room as you go to the next room (which needs to be visible to the child) to do a certain task like folding clothes. Make sure you keep eye-contact with your child and keep reassuring that mom is right here. Speak in positive, upbeat words. The first time may not work, but just keep repeating yourself and do it over and over until they are fine with you being in the next room.
2. Remember, this may not work till over a month. The key is to be consistent and to always come back to the child after a short time. Start with 30 seconds. If your child starts crying count to 10 and then show your presence to the baby. Hug her and let her know you missed her, but that you will always return. Gradually you can increase the time if the child seems to sense your absence after longer intervals. If you live alone, this will take longer to achieve. But when there is dad or another caregiver present, it will help you increase the absences faster as the child is taken care of and can be distracted. Eventually you should be able to go the grocery store and be back after half an hour to 40 minutes with the child having not missed your absence.
3. By taking things slowing, it will help you and your child overcome separation anxiety with much less tears, heartbreak and stress. The baby will continue to grow her independence from you and will soon love her new found freedom of having playtime with dad, grandma or grandpa, or other special friend.With that being said, please avoid sneaking out. Though this may feel like a safe option, the moment your child discovers you are missing, he will feel abandoned and will dread every time you leave him to go out. Always say a bye before you leave and re-assure that you will come back.
Hang in there moms! It will get better, and know that other moms are going through the same thing as you right now.