THE TODDLER ROADMAP SERIES: Episode 4 – Separation Anxiety

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Show notes:

In this episode we will be looking at Separation Anxiety – what it is, what causes it and how to handle it confidently as lots of toddlers go through this phase, so I’ll be giving you some simple and practical ideas to avoid teary and tantrum-filled goodbyes.

In this episode:

  • How Separation Anxiety Develops
  • How stresses can trigger anxiety
  • How long does separation anxiety last
  • Strategies that can make ‘goodbyes’ easier.

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Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes at www.toddlerroadmap.com/separation

There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation.

Again, that’s www.toddlerroadmap.com/separation

Sue Atkins Interview

 

Listen to the Full Interview on The Parentverse

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Making Goodbyes Easier

These strategies can help ease you and your toddler through this difficult period:

  • Timing is everything. Try not to start day care or childcare with an unfamiliar person when your little one is between the ages of 8 months and 1 year, when separation anxiety is first likely to appear. Also, try not to leave when your toddler is likely to be tired, hungry, or restless. If at all possible, schedule your departures for after naps and mealtimes.
  • Practice. Practice being apart from each other and introduce new people and places gradually. If you’re planning to leave your child with a relative or a new babysitter, then invite that person over in advance so they can spend time together while you’re in the room. If your child is starting at a new day care centre or nursery, make a few visits there together before a full-time schedule begins. Practice leaving your child with a carer for short periods of time so that he or she can get used to being away from you.
  • Be calm and consistent. Create an exit ritual where you say a pleasant, loving, and firm goodbye. Stay calm and show confidence in your child. Reassure them that you’ll be back — and explain how long it will be until you come back – say something like “I’ll be back in 2 of your favourite CBeebies programmes” using concepts your toddler understands like “after lunch” because your child can’t yet understand time. Give them your full attention when you say goodbye, and when you say you’re leaving, mean it; coming back will only make things worse.
  • Follow through on promises. It’s very important to make sure that you return when you have promised to. This is critical — this is how your child will develop the confidence that he or she can make it through the time apart. So don’t let them down – it will frighten them.

As hard as it may be to leave a child who’s screaming and crying for you, it’s important to have confidence that the carer can handle it. It may help both of you to set up a time that you will call to check in, maybe 15 to 20 minutes after you leave. By that time, most toddlers have calmed down are playing with other things. Don’t let yourself give in early and call sooner!

If you’re caring for another person’s child who’s experiencing separation anxiety, try to distract the child with an activity or toy, or with songs, games, or anything else that’s fun. You may have to keep trying until something just clicks with the child.

Also, try not to mention the child’s mummy or daddy, but do answer the child’s questions about his or her parents in a simple and straightforward way. You might say: “Mummy and Daddy are going to be back as soon as they have had dinner. Let’s play with some toys!”

 It’s Only Temporary

Remember that this phase will pass. If your child has never been cared for by anyone but you, and they are naturally shy, or they are anxious, it may be worse than it is for other children.

Trust your instincts. If your child refuses to go to a certain babysitter or day care centre or shows other signs of tensions, such as trouble sleeping or loss of appetite, then there could be a problem with your childcare situation.

Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes at www.toddlerroadmap.com/separation

There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation.

Again, that’s www.toddlerroadmap.com/separation


Join my Facebook Group Community

I have created a private and safe space for us all – a Facebook Group called ‘Don’t Stew ~ Ask Sue Atkins’ where you can ask me anything from niggles, worries, or problems or perhaps you’d just like some new ideas or you’d like to make some new friends.

Jump on and join in – it’s free from finger pointing or tut-tting – it takes a village and we’re all in this together!

It’s like a community clubhouse  – to make sure we get together to chat, laugh and support each other on the journey  – so grab a coffee and let’s get social 😊

Click here to join the community!

 


 

 

In the next episode I’ll talk about my ‘The Monkeys Are Jumping Strategy’ and how to handle anger positively, so I hope you’ll have fun with this one and learn loads!

Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full Show Notes at www.toddlerroadmap.com/separation

Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

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