Dealing with separation anxiety in children
Screaming, clinging to you, pulling on your clothes, legs, arms, climbing on you, holding out their arms and getting pulled away while crying…. sound familiar?
Separation anxiety is not just tough for kids, it is absolutely heartbreaking for us as mums! It can leave us feeling emotionally raw, bawling our eyes out in the hallway of a child care centre or in our car after the horrendous goodbye. It can make us feel really angry – why is this happening to us? Why is it so hard? Why is it taking THIS long for my child to adjust? ARGH….. Then comes the guilt. Know what I’m talking about?
Both of my kids really struggled with separation anxiety as toddlers so I am very well versed both in some tips to help reduce it in your children, as well as all the emotions we face as mums. I’ve cried in hallways and lost it in frustration, anger and emotional exhaustion.
We know that it is a completely normal part of child development and it also indicates that your child has a strong attachment to you, but in the moment, it doesn’t really help, does it?
A couple of really good books to read to your child are The Invisible String and A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon. Both of these books had huge circulation in my home with my kids when they were struggling with separation.
One of the things I implemented with my daughter when she was in Prep (and still crying at drop off each day), was the laminated love hearts. We drew them, she coloured them in, they were laminated and then cut out. At drop off we would take two love hearts, each kiss one, then swap. She would put her love heart in the pocket of her uniform and know that I was with her throughout the day. It really helped.
Another option is giving your child something of yours. Buy a cheap beaded bracelet and ask your child to look after mummy’s special bracelet throughout the day. It helps children feel important, that they have an important job to take care of something that belongs to you. It can make them feel really special while you are apart. Another option you can use if you are leaving your child at home in the care of someone else is to give them a shirt or pyjama top of yours. They can wear it or snuggle with it in bed. Even though my kids are now tweens and teens, they still ask for my pyjama top in times when they struggle with the separation.
At the end of the day, it is a really passage of time that you will face as a mother. I completely get it. I understand from a social work/psychology perspective, as well as a mother who has been there.
If you would like extra support in dealing with separation anxiety in your child, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help and can see you for a one on one session. Contact me here.