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.
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.