6 Tips to Managing Separation Anxiety in Babies & Toddlers
Many of our children who have just started school or are heading back to school are facing the challenge of separation anxiety – stressful for them and for their parents. COVID and being at home with parents has been a reality for a lot of families and to be separated now, is tough for some. Add to that, the wearing of masks, sanitising hands, having to social distance, loved ones getting sick and there is anxiety all round - and kids feel that.
Tips for managing separation anxiety in babies & toddlers
1. Validate their feelings
It’s important to acknowledge our children’s fears, but stay calm and focused. Help them focus on the positives whilst acknowledging their fears. Allow them to ask questions, and answer honestly and openly. You can’t promise that they are going to have the best day ever, but you can help them focus on the positives, “Aren’t you lucky to have so many friends to play with today?”, or “I’m going to miss you too and can’t wait to see you when I fetch you after your last lesson”.
2. Keep goodbyes short
Dragged out creche or pre-school drop-offs only exacerbates anxiety in children. A quick drop-and-go approach is best, but there should be ritual involved (like handing over a teddy for comfort or getting big kisses before saying bye-bye).
3. Implement a routine
Routines are important for children, from birth through to high school. These provide stability and help to prevent a fear of the unknown in young kids. Set a routine for times when you separate from your child and try to stick to it.
4. Try brief separations
Another method of showing your little one that you never go away for good is to start slowly with short separations. Leave your baby or toddler in a safe space and walk out of the room after saying goodbye. Wait a short while before returning, and remember that you can also console your anxious child from the other room if they get anxious.
5. Avoid the 'boomerang'
Something that should be avoided at all costs is the urge to turn the car around and go fetch your distraught baby. It's called ‘boomeranging’ and it doesn't do a child's separation anxiety any good.
6. Keep things positive
The final tip for managing separation anxiety in babies & toddlers is to remain positive. Children can pick up on negative emotions and anxiety, which could leave them feeling even more anxious. Try stay positive and in good spirits when dropping off and collecting your child.