Separation Anxiety

It’s normal for a young child to feel anxious when their mum or dad says goodbye. This can be difficult for parents as it is hard to see your child upset but separation anxiety is part of a child’s development.

Separation anxiety usually starts around a babies first birthday and stops after they start primary school. If your child’s anxieties continue after the start of primary school and the problem begins to affect school and other activities your child may have separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder may require professional help but there are lots of ways parents can help to address the problem.

Whether a parent is returning to work or a child is starting school, they are steps parents can take to help ease the process of separation. Practice separation, leave your child with the childminder or créche for short amounts of time at first. Babies and toddlers are more prone to getting upset if they are tired or hungry so practise separation after meals and naps. Come up with a special goodbye routine this will make it easier for the child to recognise it’s time for mummy or daddy to leave and they gradually see it as part of routine. Whether it’s a big hug or blowing a kiss through the window, a goodbye routine is a good thing to stick to as it helps with separation anxiety.

Having a consistent carer whether your child is in créche or has a childminder will again make separation from parents easier on a child. Keep things familiar and make new things familiar too. If your child has a favourite toy or blanket let he/she bring it to the carers, having something familiar eases separation. If your child is starting school pack a lunch that is familiar with home, what your child would usually eat for lunch at home. Try to bring part of their new surroundings home. When playing activities remind your child this is also what they do at school or in the créche. Maybe invite the childminder to your house a couple of times to make the childminder a fimiliar person in the home too.

Reassure your child everything will be fine and you will be back soon. Don’t give in as the anxiety could drag on for longer than necessary. Don’t drag the goodbye out; tell your child you are leaving and you will back, do the goodbye routine and then leave.

maternity & infant

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