Ease your child’s separation anxiety

Les Supers Parents

Published by Julie we September 13, 2022September 13, 2022

In this period of return, our children are sometimes overwhelmed by deep distress at the time of separation. We wanted to share with you some keys to soothe separation anxiety in your children.

Separation anxiety in children

Separation anxiety through the ages

With a “very small”, things are actually quite simple. He needs a loving and caring person, who provides for his basic needs: to eat, to be changed and cuddled. Separations are sometimes difficult for parents, but the baby lives it quite well.

From 6-8 months, the baby begins to become aware of this separation. He realizes that he is separating from his parents, that we can leave him with other people, and this is sometimes a source of anxiety. This is a normal phase of his development, which is called “fear of the stranger” or “eighth month crisis”. Every morning, we have the right to tears, cries, to the baby who clings, and it’s very hard to live for our parent’s heart!

It is by no means a whim, but of the manifestation of a concern, of a new stress. It usually lasts a few weeks, and then it goes away on its own. Continue to see people and reassure your little one, he will quickly understand that your absence is not permanent. Some games can also help him become aware of this: hide and seek, the “hidden peekaboo”, etc.

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When entering school, you can find the same scenario, and you have to try again to find the right balance between reassuring your child and helping him get started in community life. Bach flowers like Walnut or Mimulus can be helpful support. On the site of devayou can find an alcohol-free version suitable for children.

Entrust your baby to someone close

Difficult to give an age at which you can leave your baby to someone close, it really depends on the feelings and needs of the parents.

Obviously, the smaller the child, the shorter the length of separation should be. We can start with an hour or two, then gradually increase. And one day, we can leave it for a whole night and more!

Allow your child to anticipate to avoid separation anxiety

No matter how old your child is, even a newborn, you can explain to him why you have to leave him. Even if he does not “intellectually” understand what you are saying, he hears your reassuring voice, and picks up the information he is able to grasp as he goes along. Attention, it is not a question of entrusting him with your problems and tell him everything! And not to justify all your actions as in front of a mini-judge!

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Prefer to say: “I’m going to the physio, I’ll pick you up later, see you later my baby”, rather than explaining to him that you can’t take your baby to the physio, because there’s lots of people and germs, but that if we could we would take it away etc…

But pay attention to don’t let him know too far in advanceit has no interest for a short separation and it can be a source of additional stress.

The transitional object to soothe separation anxiety

The famous child psychiatrist Winnicott spoke of a transitional object, to describe the comforter, the small toy or the blanket which the child does not part with in the first years.

It’s like he takes a little piece of his mom everywhere with him, it reassures him and soothes him in case of little stress. Even if he is very small, you can leave your baby a small soft toy, a velvet square, a blanket which will follow him to the nanny or to the crèche, and which will help him to pass the moments of transition between the house and the outside.

For older children, transitional objects are not always allowed, so you can “trick” them with a little heart drawn in felt-tip pens in the hollow of the wrist or a “magic bracelet” which are all nice ways to remind them throughout the day that we love him, that we are here no matter what and that we will meet again soon.

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5 keys to preventing separation anxiety

  1. Before leaving home, prepare a small backpack with the cuddly toy, a change, and a little thing to pass on or show to the nanny or the mistress: a postcard, a drawing, a book… especially if it’s a little complicated in the morning.
  2. When you arrive, you say hello, and we don’t hang around. The longer, the worse. A big kiss, a little hug and we run away.
  3. Don’t let your child think you’re reluctantly leaving. Show him you’re happy to go to work, see your co-workers, and leave him with his friends and the nanny/mistress.
  4. Recognize all the small steps takenas a sign that your little one is growing up.
  5. If the crying persists, talk to the nanny or the mistressand try to find together a little more personalized separation ritual.

We hope that these few keys will help you and of course, if you have other tips, do not hesitate to share them by leaving a comment below.

We wish you all a good start to the new school year!

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