Being a Parent

How You Can Start Helping Your Child Cope with Separation Anxiety

It’s heart-wrenching to see your child cry when you’re not around, whether you’re dropping them off at a party or leaving them with a babysitter. Honestly, this is a crippling behaviour that needs to stop before it gets any worse. It’s usually more challenging to break a behavior if it’s been instilled for so many years, but your child is still young, and this is absolutely needed in order for them to have a fulfilling life and even for you to have a fulfilling life, too.

While yes it’s true that separation anxiety is a common phase for many children, it’s natural for parents to feel concerned and unsure about how to help. Obviously, as a parent, you want to be there for them, but you can’t always have them around you. 

They need to have friends, they’ll need to go to school for an education, and chances are high it’s going to get to the point where you’re going to need reliable childcare for your little one so you can go about working, running errands, and just making the household run as a hold. But if your kid is around, you can’t work, you can’t clean, you can’t do groceries, in general, it’s hard to achieve anything in this case, right?

That’s why you need to support your child through this, help them in this challenging time, and do what you can to make them feel more secure. So, with that said, here’s what you can do to help separation anxiety for your child. 

Establish a Goodbye Routine

It’s all going to start with this: creating a consistent and positive goodbye routine can make parting easier for your child. This could be a special hug, a kiss, or a unique handshake that you share every time you leave. But in general, keeping goodbyes short and sweet is crucial—prolonging the farewell can heighten anxiety. You’ll have to assure them that you’ll be back soon and remind them of something fun they can look forward to while you’re away.

Practice Short Separations

Gradually getting your child used to short separations can help build their confidence- this is where the anxiety is coming from. They need to be confident that they can be safe when you’re not around. So, go ahead and start with brief periods where you leave the room or the house, and then gradually increase the length of time you’re away. For example, you could leave them with a trusted family member for 10 minutes while you run an errand, then extend that time as they become more comfortable.

Talk About Their Feelings

It’s really going to depend on their age, so this may or may not be the right option. But go ahead and encourage your child to express their feelings about being separated from you. Even when they’re toddlers, they can usually express it in a simple form. Just let them know it’s okay to feel sad or scared and that their feelings are valid.

Just listen to their concerns without dismissing them and provide reassurance. You might say, “I understand you feel sad when I leave. I miss you too, but I’ll be back soon, and you’ll have fun with your friends.”