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8 Ways to Deal With Your Toddler’s Separation Anxiety

8 Ways to Deal With Your Toddler’s Separation Anxiety

By Chiomah Momah

You leave for work in the morning and your toddler clings to your legs and cries like you are never coming back. Sounds familiar? Separation anxiety is a very normal phenomenon in toddlers. Most times, it’s just a sign that they will miss you and really want you around or may not understand that you will be coming back. While this could be a heart wrenching ordeal for both you and your little one, there are a few ways you can make it easier while it lasts.

1. Say goodbye quickly…

Don’t linger with your goodbyes. The longer you’re there, the harder it is for your child. Just quickly explain you’ll soon be back with a hug and kiss, and then leave.

READ ALSO: 8 Tips to Foster Your Child’s Independence

2. Explain

Don’t lie! Don’t say, “Aunty Dorcas go and take him to wear his shoes” and then sneak out. Not only is it going to make your toddler feel worse, it could also lead to trust issues. Instead, try and calmly tell your child that you wish you could be together all day and that you will be back soon.

It may seem easier to just sneak out when she is not looking but in the long run it makes separation anxiety even worse. Sneaking out can also lead to distrust.

3. Consistency

Children love routine. The goal is to make your departure, school drop off or whatever causes you to leave your tot consistently timed. That way, he knows that around 8 a.m. mummy always leaves, and before you know what’s happening, he’ll be happily saying, “bye mama.”

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Curb Parental Anxiety

4. Show a good example

I remember when my first son started school, I was heartbroken at his tears, and almost started crying too. Showing that you’re also anxious will heighten your child’s anxiety. Instead fake a smile, wipe his tears and tell him how much fun he will have at school or wherever he will be while you’re gone.

5. Help your toddler understand that people return

Games like ‘A Peek a Boo’ and ‘Hide and Seek’ explain this concept clearly. You could also read your toddler children’s books that deal with the subject. Some good examples are “Oh My Baby Little One’ by Kathi Appelt and ‘Mama Always Comes Home’ by Karma Wislon.

READ ALSO: Does Your Child Have A Victim Mentality? See 6 Typical Signs

6. Spend quality time

Sometimes it’s easy to assume that toddlers with separation anxiety are always with their parents, but actually it’s usually the reverse. Children who hardly see their parents tend to be clingier and display their anxiety when a parent who they hardly see leaves. Spend real quality time with your toddler to make up for your absence. Always find ways to connect with your little one.

7. Leave your toddler with familiar objects

If you’re taking your toddler to daycare for the first time it may be a good idea to let him take a favourite toy or something that will remind him of home with him. Similarly, if you’re the one that is going to be away, make sure your toddler has a picture of you within reach.

8. Practice 

If you have spent plenty of time with your toddler and know you may have periods of separation soon, try to practice being apart. You can do this by spending short periods of time away from your toddler. This way, it won’t be a rude shock when you have to be apart for several hours.

As with most things in life, your toddler’s separation anxiety will pass, but while it lingers, applying these tips will make the situation a lot easier for both parties.

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