Sunday, November 15, 2009

Separation Anxiety

For as much as I have worried about this, my son is not bad at all compared to some other children I know about me leaving him somewhere. However, lately it seems like he is suffering a little from separation anxiety. It only happens once in a while and I've been told doesn't last long; but I have family members who struggle with this a lot. I have been very lucky in this area as my son is with somebody other than me from 9 am until at least 12:30 pm M-F while I am at school. But, my question is how to make sure it doesn't escalate to the point of being a big issue.

Have you dealt with separation anxiety with your children?
How have you handled separation anxiety?
Do you have any advice on how to make a child feel secure where ever they are?


Tannie Datwyler said...

What an excellent questions Megan. I haven't really had this problem too much so I can't really be too much of a help, but here are some thoughts.

My little girl was with her dad every morning for the first two years of her life. I taught part time and he watched her. But on Thursdays he always taught a class so she went to a sitter for just a couple of hours every Thursday, plus we have always had babysitting trades and temple trades. So my daughter was pretty used to sitters. My son too. Sometimes though, no matter how much a child goes to another person during the day or night, he or she still gets separation anxiety. Just personality I think.

I'm not sure what to do with that - I really hope some more people comment because like I said, I haven't had much experience. I think it will depend on your child's personality. If you know that he/she will freak out for a few minutes after you leave and then be fine, just go ahead and leave your child crying. I've actually done this a few times. My daughter didn't want to go into nursery a few times (when she was like 2 1/2, so weird because she had no problems at 18 months) and so I'd just leave her crying and she would be fine within 2 minutes. But some kids will get really wound up. So listen to your child.

I actually have the opposite problem sometimes. My daughter often cries or tells me to "go away" when I come to PICK her up from a babysitter's house because she is having so much fun. It makes me feel really bad sometimes. :( So be glad your little guy is attached to you. But when I pick my son up from a sitter he always runs to me like he can't get there fast enough. At least someone loves me. . . . :)

Ben and Shauna said...

My little boy has had an issue with this. And to be honest, I didn't know what to do half the time. Like dropping him off for nursery. He went through phases. At 18 mos. he was fine. Then about 20 mos. we had to drop him off, and leave when he wasn't looking, and that worked fine. Then, he got to where he'd get excited to leave sacrament to go to nursery. But then after we moved to Bountiful. I don't know if it was being somewhere new with unfamiliar faces. Which is perfectly understandable. I would have Ben just drop him off, and we'd leave him crying. (I couldn't stand to just leave, that's why Ben did it!) I tried a couple times, and wait till he was 'settled', but that ended up being all of Sunday school. So the leader said to just leave him, and they'd deal with him, if it got too bad, they'd come get us. They said that like a min after we'd leave, he was fine, and when we'd pick him up, he was all smiles, and you wouldn't have ever guessed he was crying to go in.

As for babysitters, we always had to do the same thing. He'd cry as we'd leave, and then be fine a min. later. But I did notice, that the times I'd let him choose to bring something to the babysitters, and try to prepare him,'mommy's going to the doctor, so you get to play with Davey, then when mom is done, I'll be back to take you home!' He was more willing to walk up to the door with me (whimpering). He still cried, but I think preparing him mentally helped, then having a comfort something with him. Whether it was a stuffed animal, a ball, blanket etc. Whatever he chose.

I'm interested to see what other people say though, I'm positive my little girl (7mos.)will have a hard time as well. So I want some input on what to do with her. I do think it helps to leave them often with different people, to help them get used to different people. But even then, when I've gone to take Cole to his speech class, every week. I've had different people watch her, and she continually looks around for me, and whines. So I'll definitely be checking back! :)

Delia said...

My experience sounds similar to what has already been said. It just comes and goes. I like what Shauna said about mentally preparing them. Talk about what you are going to do and then do it even if you think they won't understand. They may cry but remember that it will most likely just be a phase that will go away in a month or two...and maybe pop back up again. If he has a "lovey" that might help him make the transition better. Then the sitter can take it away when he starts playing and feels better.

Chris and Laura said...

Both of my girls have been in day care from early on (yeah, that's a whole two weeks for my second...). Here is what I have learned about separation anxiety.

Invite people over to your house. Give your kids a chance to get used to being around other people when it's still a safe place--they know the house, you're still there. That can help them learn that other people are safe, too.

When dropping them off, get them interested in a toy or activity. That way, when you leave, it isn't like you're completely abandoning them.

Don't hide or sneak out when they are distracted. It's important that they do actually see you leave. That way, they know that when you leave, you will come back. If you always try to hide, they will not understand what's going on and will probably have a harder time knowing that you will come back.

I have found that it generally works to leave even if they are crying. Like has been said, they often get over it quickly. If they have a hard time for quite a while, try leaving them for shorter periods of time until they learn to adjust better, then try staying gone longer.

Hope that helps!

Britta said...

I haven't experienced seperation anxiety. My daughter is 2 and just never really cared if I wasn't there. Sometimes it was really really nice because, obviously, tantrums are time consuming. But other times I felt like 'k, what?' because I felt like she didn't really care. And, I can't use that 'stay where I can see you!' line because my daughter just doesn't care if she can't see me and runs off to play alone.

I think for a lot of children its a matter of personality more than parenting. I wish I had ideas because I'm sure that my next kid is going to be so clingy that I can't handle it!