It's the moment every parent of a small child dreads: the good-bye. For parents of young children, it can be a gut-wrenching, heart wrenching, guilt-ridden moment full of tears, protests, and quick getaways.
Separation anxiety can ruin your workday, put a damper on your rare dinner out, and keep you chained to your toddler. But that doesn't have to be the case.
Here are some ways you and your kids can relieve the stress of saying goodbye.
Transitional objects, like a favorite blanket, can help reassure an anxious child. These objects represent comfort, safety and joy and will help ease the burden your child may feel when you leave. Make sure that when you do leave your child, that those special objects are close at hand to provide comfort if needed.
As silly as it sounds, parents can practice being apart from kids which will make a big difference when it comes time to actually separate. The best part is you don’t even have to leave your house. Tell your baby or toddler that you’ll be going to another room for a little while. Make sure to tell them that you will return. Even if you practice this in 15 minute intervals, the more you do it they better your child and you will respond when the goodbye actually happens.
Babysitters will help tremendously when it comes to separation anxiety. If you’re planning a night out have your sitter arrive about 45 minutes early to transition slowly into their care. Your kids can sense your anxiety but if a baby sitter is available to help before mom and dad leaves you’ll feel more relaxed and your children will be as well.
Never Sneak Out
Some parents try the technique of sneaking out of the house without the kids noticing. This might do more harm than good. Always leave the house in sight of the kids and make it a happy occasion by focusing on your return as opposed to focusing on when you leave. It may take a few tries but eventually your kids will begin to associate your leaving with emotions other than anxiety and sadness.
Being calm, confident and reassuring when leaving will help your kids’ separation anxiety tremendously. And make sure that when you do return you enjoy the warm welcome and extra hugs. Being apart makes reuniting that much sweeter.