During the past year, families have had to make significant changes to meet the COVID-19 rules.
So many things have changed - Regular routines of daily childcare or school drop-offs have changed. Parents who have worked from home may be now going back out to work.
Many of you have replaced weekly shopping with online shopping so routines have changed again. Life has certainly been different for a while and children are finding re-adjustment to life as we know it difficult.
Separation anxiety is a stage of development that is typical for babies and toddlers. It is a sign of attachment to caregivers and is also a common stage of emotional and cognitive development.
As a baby’s brain develops, she begins to understand that things exist even if she cannot see them.
For example, if a toy is moved into another room, she understands that the toy is somewhere, just not in front of her. If a sibling starts school and therefore nursery drop offs have changed this too can also cause anxiety.
The same awareness happens with people, and especially parents, siblings, and primary caregivers. This can lead to separation anxiety.
While this is a challenging time of development, there are ways to help your child cope with separation anxiety.
Talk with your child. Preparing your child for time away is important. Talk to him about what to expect when you leave. Validate his feelings of fear and uncertainty. Answer his questions with honesty. Sharing information and talking about feelings builds trust and decreases stress. Tell us about why your child may be feeling anxious so we can support you.
Create a short goodbye routine. Children thrive in consistent and predictable environments. Having a short, simple “goodbye” routine can help your child feel safe about the separation. This routine could be sharing a quick hug, waving from a window, or giving them a special toy or blanket to hold. If your child has a comforter and this helps with their anxiety please talk to us and we can help with this.
The goodbye routine is a signal that after some time away, there will be time together again.
Practice separation. Although separation anxiety is a development phase, children will pass through anxiety into security with practice. Practice leaving the child with a family member or a safe adult for short periods of time. Follow the “goodbye” routine and always come back at the time promised. Be calm and reassuring as you step out and when you come back. He will learn that your absence is temporary and will look forward to your return.
It is really important to remember these periods will pass and we will always support you wherever we can.