How to Deal with Separation Anxiety

How to Deal with Separation Anxiety

With our kids going back to school, the conversation of separation anxiety arises between us mothers. For those not knowing what this is, it is a topic that occurs with developmental age. Symptoms can include recurrent and excessive distress when leaving loved ones or home. 

With the pandemic meaning a lot of time has been spent at home, there is no surprise that this has risen amongst families in the last year. Little ones treasure their time at home and when they are told they will no longer be spending their days there, it can often cause distress. 

Facts about Separation Anxiety

Infants: When a baby starts to have an understanding of object permanence, separation anxiety can develop. They will start to understand when mummy is not there. This can make them unsettled. A common age for this to occur is at the 9 month stage. Try to keep your coming and going short and in a routine.

Toddlers: It is no surprise that at toddlerhood, our little ones are more aware of the aspect of separation. When at 15-18 months, they may start displaying more challenges and anxiety. When tired, hungry or unwell, separation anxiety can get harder. Which is most of the time when they are toddlers!

Preschoolers: At around the 3 year mark, our little ones understand more-so than ever the aspect of anxiety when linked to separation. The easiest ways to deal with this is keeping good-bye’s short and sweet. And also try your hardest not to return after a child’s plea.

We caught up with Jen from @itsthefergusons on how she helps her son, Teddy with Separation Anxiety with going back to school.

6 Tips on dealing with Separation Anxiety

  1. Reading. I found the book The Invisible String incredibly insightful. It is a book about the unbreakable connections between loved ones and has healed a generation of readers.
  2. Listen. It can be so hard to see and hear your child upset and struggling. Try to see the world through their eyes and reassure them that their feelings are valid. 
  3. Mindfulness. It’s a skill that helps us cope with big emotions and challenging experiences. And, just like a muscle, it’s something we can all build with practice.
  4. Symbols to connect. Whether it be a love heart on both yours and their hand, a two part keyring that you have half of each, or a matching bracelet. Something they can see and touch to few close to you can ease the derogation anxiety.Bracelet duo

5. Acceptance. Ignoring separation anxiety won’t make it go away. In fact, it may heighten it. As hard as it is, and the struggle is real, facing up to what’s happening is the first step to dealing with it productively. Ask for help from family, friends or teachers. You are not alone. 

6. Drop the mum guilt. Ignore negativity or judgements from others. Every child is unique and what works for one child, won’t work for another. Accept that the anxiety hasn’t been caused by anything you’ve ‘done wrong.’ Take care of yourself as well as your little one.

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