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Separation anxiety is a very normal experience during early childhood, usually occurring for a period of time between six months of age and four years old.

Children become attached to their main parents or carers when they learn they can provide the love and attention they need. So when a child is old enough to know that they can be away from their carers, they can begin to worry and have separation anxiety.

In early childhood, your child is only aware of the present so they can’t anticipate being reunited with you and this leaves the child with even more worry. However, this feeling ceases when your child grows older they can grow to understand from past experiences that they will be reunited with you or another carer and so will become more confident when separated.

For the time being, here are some tips that can help you and your child ease separation anxiety.

Have a consistent primary caregiver or nanny

Children can become attached to, and feel safe with more than one person but this usually only occurs with a handful of people that the child is close and spends lots of time with.

If using a nanny or babysitter, try to find one that your child feels safe and comfortable with and stick with that one person. This will minimise your child’s anxiety and worries.

Try a familiar object

Something as simple as ensuring that your child keep a familiar object, either one of theirs, such as their favourite toy or something of yours such as a bag or a handkerchief with your perfume on it, can keep them feeling calm and secure when you’re not there.

Say “goodbye, I love you” each time and don’t look back

Saying something along the lines of “goodbye, I love you” each and every time, allows for your child to gradually understand the concept of rituals, knowing that he or she will see you again and that this is a normal, everyday routine.

Practice separation

Practicing separation can help your child prepare for actually being away from you. Games like hide and seek are great as they’re not only fun but can also build a child’s confidence when by themselves for a period of time.

Reassure your child that they are okay and will see you again soon

Telling your child that they are okay and will see you again soon can help them relax and enjoy the time spent away from you without worrying about whether you’re coming back or not.

  • My son was so bad! He cried so much when I dropped him at daycare, he only went twice, I couldn’t handle him being so upset. Then school time came, same thing happened except I couldn’t take him home again. Heartbreaking!

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  • Thanks for the tips! Going to go back to work soon and i hope these can help adjust my kid.

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  • Its the hardest thing ever to leave your child at crashe and have him screaming your name as you walk out the door. my so had been going for nearly a yr 2 days a week and still cries every single time heartbreaking,

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  • Great tips. I found the say goodbye quickly and go worked the best for us. I would still leave my son crying at childcare, but if I stayed longer it just made it harder and harder. A few times I got into the car park and cried myself – but stayed strong for him. It has taken him a while (he is now 8), but he is not happy to be left at school provided we follow the same goodbye ritual.

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  • My 5 year old has just started not wanting to go to pre-school. Not looking forward to big school next year when I have to leave him every day.

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  • Some very useful tip – thank you

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  • I’m not looking forward to the day I have to drop my little one off at Kindy…its bad enough leaving her at home with my husband while I go get my hair done. Thanks for the tips, I am pinning this for future use!

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  • I’m lucky my kids are pretty cruisy and I didn’t go through this

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  • Luckily I don’t have this problem as I’ve been leaving my son with other people since he was very little.

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  • I always made sure I said goodbye to my children and said I’d be back later, I never snuck away when they were distracted.

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  • this is my greatest fear, cause of my anxiety, I cant take it and have to be there

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  • it is a real fear these children suffer

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  • remind yourself too that this is just another phase

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  • Perhaps I need to just listen and being strict to her from now on :(

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  • thank you sharing this article good read

    Reply

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