Separation anxiety isn’t easy on anyone. Parents feel awful leaving a crying child. Babies understand mom and dad still exist when they are out of sight but are too young to have a real grasp on the concepts of time and language, making it difficult to prepare them for time apart. Here are some ways to make the separation anxiety phase less painful for everyone involved.
Babies and young children look to adults for clues about how they should act or feel in a given situation. Acting relaxed and happy in new environments with unfamiliar people shows kids new places and faces are safe.
Don’t Sneak Out
While it might seem easier in the moment, avoid the urge to make a run for it while the baby is distracted. Sneaking out creates unnecessary panic and can lengthen the separation anxiety phase. Those sad tearful goodbyes are a necessary part of the learning process.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like pretty much everything else in life, children learn how to be away from their family by actually being away from their family! Many parents worry about leaving their kids for an extended period of time. Instead of starting with eight hours of daycare, let some trusted adults in your life like grandparents or aunts and uncles babysit for an hour or two, and then work up to longer periods of time.
Make goodbyes short and calm, but return with excitement. Those hugs and kisses and exuberant reunions will be the part of their day that sticks with your baby. Overtime, they will learn to look forward to hello again more than they dread goodbye.
Remember Nothing is Forever
The separation anxiety phase won’t last forever. No matter how painful and exhausting this phases is, babies and young kids eventually outgrow it as they learn that the people you leave them with will love and care for them in your absence.