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How to Manage Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

children separation anxiety
March 8, 2023

How to Manage Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

The idea of spending time away from the little ones can be painful for parents. But sometimes it could be hard for toddlers too, as it often involves a lot of screams and tears. According to experts, it is very common among children to experience separation anxiety as they associate security & familiarity with parents.

With that being said, just knowing that separation anxiety is normal doesn’t make it any easier for parents and toddlers alike. And it can become an even bigger challenge if you have to send the child to preschool as they will have to spend considerable time away from their parents.

That’s why today, we will look at separation anxiety in detail, along with some ways to manage your child’s separation anxiety:

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What is Separation Anxiety?

It is common among children to have fear and anxiety when being away from their parents. This anxiety can manifest in the form of crying and screaming when they are separated from their parents. This is commonly known as separation anxiety and can be seen in children between the ages of 6 months – 5 years old.

According to experts, there’s nothing to worry about regarding separation anxiety. In fact, it is an essential part of development, and every child goes through it.

However, the intensity of separation anxiety can vary from child to child. In some children, the separation anxiety goes away within a few months, while others take some more time. Similarly, some tend to cry and scream a lot more than others when they are separated from their parents, but in fact they start playing with their peers right away, forgetting about that “separation.”

Sometimes, your child can also experience fear of strangers when they are separated from you. Moreover, the symptoms of separation anxiety & fear of strangers are also very similar, and might negatively impact your child’s emotions.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

It is very easy to spot signs of separation anxiety among children. The most obvious one is a lot of tears and screams when the parents drop the child at the preschool. Some other signs include:

  • Not sleeping without the presence of parents/caregivers.
  • Becoming clingy in the absence of parents/caregivers.
  • Crying in new situations.
  • Crying when you leave them at preschool/daycare.

5 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

Feeling guilty when you have to leave your child for some time isn’t going to solve anything. Instead, you should focus on coming up with different strategies to help your child cope with separation anxiety & eventually help them get over it.

Now, let’s look at some 5 ways that you can start using today to manage your child’s separation anxiety:

1. Do not Prolong Goodbyes

When you drop your child at preschool or a new location, try to keep your goodbyes short and positive. Acting anxious or prolonging the goodbyes can give a signal to the child that something is not right.

In addition, the child can also pick up the worry and anxiety from you if you show these emotions during the goodbyes. In return, this leads to the symptoms of separation anxiety right away when you get out of sight!

The best way to say goodbyes is to stay calm and positive. You can hug them and then tell them that you will be back soon.

2. Bring a Comfort Item to the Child

Does your child have a favorite teddy bear, blanket, or soft toy? Most children usually have at least one comfort item that can soothe them and remind them of their family through the power of the senses.

So, another tip you can use to manage your child’s separation anxiety is to let them take their comfort item with them to preschool or a new location.

This will help them to feel comfortable and will significantly reduce separation anxiety. In addition, it will also continue to remind them of their family and home.

One thing to note here, though, is to ensure that the comfort item is in the control of the child and not an adult. This way, they can always access the comfort item/toy when they feel like it.

It would also be wise to inform your preschool or adults in charge of a new location about the comfort item & your child’s separation anxiety.

3. Practice being apart For Short Durations

Leaving your child at the preschool for several hours may seem a daunting task if they are not used to it before; especially if you are a first-time parent. That’s why it is usually best to practice short durations of being apart before moving to long ones.

To get started, you can leave your child at a relative’s or a friend’s house while you go run some errands. First, it is usually best to keep the duration short and then gradually increase it to several hours.

Doing this before the child starts preschool will make it easy for them and even for you to stay apart for long durations.

4. Listen & Comfort the Child

When you are together with your child, listen to their worries and comfort them by giving a hug or some encouraging words. This will make them feel loved and understood.

On the contrary, taking their worries lightly or trivializing them could further exaggerate their anxiety!

Sometimes, a child may express their worries in the form of non-verbal cues such as being too clingy and fussing.

For example, you can acknowledge their worries by saying it’s okay to miss me at preschool. And you can add something positive on top of it by saying how they will have a lot of fun at the preschool!

5. Engage Them in Activities

You can ask your preschool’s teacher to prepare an activity for the child as soon as you drop them off at the building.

This way, the child can get engaged in the activity and will stop thinking about how you have left them. It can be a new toy or a fun clapping game that can divert their attention away from you, or the one and only “Who Came To School Today” song.

Once again, it is best to discuss your child’s separation anxiety with the preschool to come up with an effective strategy as a whole.

children separation anxiety

HCA Will Help You Manage Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

As you can see, it is okay for your little one to show separation anxiety when they are left alone. In a sense, it goes to show the loving bond they have formed with you! Over time, your little one will eventually learn to be away from you for a long duration of time without being anxious and worried.

Here at Haymarket Children’s Academy, we implement several techniques upon each one of our student’s arrival, in order to tackle that “separation anxiety” stigma and include your little one with his or her classmates and engage them & incorporate them in the curriculum activities, right away.