The phase of separation, as experienced by a child is different from what adults feel. It is one the most important thing for a child to learn, i.e. to be independent. Even for a shorter period of time, it would seem to be causing an inexplicable pain, and the endurance of separation dwindles. It can be very tiring for parents who want to either start working again or to do some chores that involve leaving the child to be on his own.
Separation anxiety is a sign of an emotional development that is healthy; a child will start showing signs of it from six months and could be persistent till he is four years old. The normal anxiety can turn into a disorder, if parents don’t really pay attention to the symptoms, which are similar to that of the normal anxiety but can be differentiated based on the intensity.
If the anxiety turns into a disorder it can hamper a child’s attitude towards being social. Some of the symptoms for the disorder are: reluctance to go to school, excessive complaining about physical illness and trying to stop you from stepping out of their sight by clinging to your leg or arm. As parenting itself is a nerve wracking and daunting task, it is altogether another level to freed oneself from excessive clinging.
Let’s look at few ways that help parents to instill confidence in children while they’re away:
- Being consistent at separation:
Parents need to be calm during the separation; the emotions shown by parents will in turn have a similar effect on the child. If a parent shows any sign of tears, or sadness in their tone, it would replicate itself and the child expresses them back.
- Introduce the babysitter taker in your presence:
Make sure that the babysitter you’ve hired would spend half an hour with your kid in your presence. It calms down the child, and makes them feel comfortable with the new person in the scene. Introduce the kid to them, and if a parent is positive about a person surely the kid would follow.
- Have one babysitter for a longer period of time:
It’s important that parents hire the babysitter, who could be with the child for a long period of time. Let’s say minimum of six months at the least. If there is frequent change in the babysitter, it might get difficult for a child to take in a new face every two months. It’s better to be cautious while choosing a babysitter.
- Embed separation into the routine:
Instead of just dumping the child into isolation, it’s better to make it a part of daily routine. It could start from something as small as fifteen minutes of separation and could go up to one hour. Once they’re used to it, they’ll not be whining anymore.
- Engage them while you’re away:
When you’re away, give them a task before hand. It can be anything like asking them to paint a picture of yours or watering a plant. Anything, that can make them feel a bit more responsible and alert.And the best thing would be to involve them in the activities that they enjoy the most.
- Never forget to appreciate their efforts:
Once you come back, see what they’ve done and appreciate their efforts. And don’t forget to emphasize how strong and brave they’ve been in your absence. Hug them and tell them how proud you’re of them and always will be. It’s important for a kid to know that he can handle things on his own.
- Tell them that you’re leaving:
It’s a good thing to let your child know that you’ll be out for some time rather than just handing them over to someone and make a silent exit. As the child grows, their attention and memory increases. That would make them recall their parents after a while and if not in sight the outcome is more of crying and throwing tantrums. And when you leave, don’t forget to tell them that you’ll be back.
- Stranger anxiety Vs. Separation anxiety:
Stranger anxiety is when the child starts crying even when they’re with you, but the plethora of unfamiliar faces in front of them makes them fussy. And the more these faces try to come closer to the child, the more they show signs of irritation. However, it’s just a phase and one need not take the child’s tears personally. It is a child’s way of saying that he knows who are in his tribe and who are not.
It’s a phase like any other in yours and your child’s life. It’s paramount to understand that and act accordingly. It is better to begin spending some time apart from the child, starting from as early as six months. The child starts coping with it well before his preschool begins. So, start doing via trial and error method. See what works for your child and chuck the ones that don’t but make sure that at the end they realize that there’s no harm in being without parents.