Jun 9, 2006
Mommy, don’t go!
These words are often heard when you bring and leave your child to/in the daycare, a friend’s place or even with the babysitter. Hurtful screams that most of the time makes your heart tighten and make you want to take him home again.
Unfortunately, this feeling is a very common part of a child’s early years. Though this behavior is perfectly normal, it could be very unsettling. So having the understanding on why this is happening and having strategies for both of you to cope is essential to get through this temporary phase.
Between 8 months to 1 year old, your child is growing into a more independent toddler – yet he or she is even more uncertain about being separated from you. This is when separation anxiety typically develops. Whether you’re just getting something in the other room or going to the toilet, your child clings to you and ignores anything or anyone around him.
While some kids experience this, some might not go through this feeling at all. It varies widely from child to child. So don’t worry if you’re child starts to cry when you leave, though other kids seem to not mind their parents absence. He needs to develop the confidence that all will be fine and that you’ll always come back.
Making Goodbyes Easier:
There are a number of strategies you can use to help ease your child (and yourself) through this difficult period.
Timing is everything. Try not to start day care or child care with an unfamiliar person between the ages of 8 months and 1 year, when separation anxiety is first likely to present itself. Also, try not to leave your child when he or she 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 center or preschool, make a few visits there together before a full-time schedule begins. Practice leaving your child with a caregiver for short periods of time so that he or she can get used to being away from you.
Be calm and consistent. Create a goodbye ritual during which you say a pleasant, loving, and firm goodbye. Stay calm and show confidence in your child. Reassure him or her that you’ll be back – and explain how long it will be until you return using concepts your child will understand (such as after lunch) because your child can’t yet understand time. Give him or her 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 important to make sure that you return when you have promised to return. This is critical, and there can be no exceptions. This is the only way your child will develop the confidence that he or she can make it through this time.