Has your child hit the stage of separation anxiety? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! According to healthychildren.org, many children begin to show signs of separation anxiety at around 10 months, and possibly again at 18 months. This behavior should only last a few months each time. Over time, your child will begin to gain confidence and understanding that mom and dad will come back if they leave. Separation anxiety is hard for both the parent and child, but it is also an important stage most babies need to go through. Your child will learn that they don’t need you by their side day and night and it will teach your child how to emotionally regulate themselves.
Why separation anxiety is GOOD!
It’s a healthy milestone for your baby!
Your baby is remembering! Your baby is understanding the concept of object performance. They begin to realize that things and people are not present. But, they don’t have the concept that these objects will return, which is why they don’t like it when you leave!
Your baby feels a strong attachment to you!
If your baby is showing signs of separation anxiety, then you’re doing something right! This means that your baby feels comforted and safe with you!
But, why is it so HARD?
Good news! We have some tips to make this period a little more bearable!
1. You know the irritable feeling you get when you are are tired or hungry? Your baby feels the same way. When you plan to leave your baby with another caregiver, make sure they are fed and rested. This will help your baby to not feel as anxious when you have to leave them. If your child is sick, try to reschedule any errands you may need to do; they need you to comfort them most at those times.
2. Saying goodbye is always hard. Try to keep it short and simple. Don’t linger thinking it will help. The more you stay, the harder it will be for your baby to understand the concept that you have to leave. If you're leaving them with a new person or in a new environment, do take a little extra time for them to get used to the new environment.
3. Don’t give into their tears! Comfort them when needed, but know your baby will cry because they want you to stay with them. Once you leave, their fear will taper eventually.
4. When at home, try to allow your baby to become accustomed to you leaving by allowing them small intervals of alone time. If you do have to leave them in a room, don’t run back right away when they begin to protest. Talk to them until you get back. Let them know you will come back!
If your baby is going through this stage, just know it doesn't last forever! Take comfort in the fact that your baby trusts and loves you so much they don’t want to be away from you! Eventually, their anxiety and fear will subside. They will learn that you don’t disappear forever when you leave them.