Separation Anxiety: Why + How to Cope

Everyone has heard of separation anxiety. If you’ve ever been around preschools, daycares or sunday school, you know it involves a lot of tears, screaming and outbursts. It usually starts around their first birthday.

The Science

When babies are born, they don’t understand that objects exist when they can’t see them known as object permanence. When they reach between 4-7 months, they start to learn that things exist when they can’t see them. They know mom or dad left, and they don’t know when they’ll be back because time is different for them than it is for us, they don’t have that same understanding yet. Hence the crying and sadness when we leave. It’s hard to hear it, and you may even feel guilty because of it.

I am in no way an expert or know more than anyone else about separation anxiety. This is purely my opinion based on my experience with my son.

I hate leaving my son. I know he’ll be okay eventually, and in the end, he won’t even notice my absence. It doesn’t change my reluctance to leave him for anything whether it be for date nights, meetings or volunteering. I just can’t help but feel like I’m somehow letting him down. That I’ll miss something important or something will happen. However, a little separation is good for them and us. It’s proof of our healthy bond, the bond between mom or dad and baby. Eventually, they’ll know that we’ll return, but in the mean time it gives them a sense of independence and good coping skills.

It’s important for us as mothers to be able to spend some time away from them. It’ll help us to be more present when we are with are little ones, instead of being exhausted. As a mom I sometimes find myself wondering who I am now. When all we do revolves around our kids, we start to lose our identity. We aren’t sleeping, or dressing up as much as we used to. We don’t go out and don’t have that freedom we used to. Getting away is hard for me, but it has been really nice to do things I enjoy again and even getting some errands done without the extra body.

Although nothing will ever make leaving my little guy easier these tricks are things that have worked for us to make it a little easier.

Tips and Tricks to help with Separation Anxiety
  • Small amounts of time away are good for everyone. You can leave them with dad or with a grandparent and just get away. This also works great for date night with your spouse. Or even just a little alone time.
  • If you’re trying a new babysitter or caretaker, make sure to spend some time with them before you leave. Invite them over while you are there so your little one can get used to them, but know that you’re around. For us, Sunday school is a great way. I’m around helping in other classes and able to peak in on him. I spend some time with him in his classroom while he’s playing and getting to know the other teachers.
  • Dropping them off if they are hungry or tired will make the anxiety worse. If you can feed them before or make sure naptime was before then it will work out better for everyone.
  • Don’t stick around too long once you drop them off. Say your goodbyes and then leave. It makes it harder on your little one, you and the caretaker if you’re sticking around. Make a goodbye routine and stick with it.

These tricks really helped us. He still cries when we leave, but he doesn’t take long to settle and usually has a great time. He knows we will be back and is so excited when we are. There are a few tricks that help me when we leave too.

Tips and Tricks for Mom
  • Praying – a quick prayer in the car or just before we leave is a great way to bring peace into my heart. I know he’ll be in good hands and trust the people I’m leaving him with.
  • Lots of loves and kisses before we leave. Cuddles and everything.
  • Knowing that I’ve said bye, I love you and a goodbye kiss. Our routine, when I leave, is so important to me and to him.

It’ll be hard, but in the end it’s a good thing. For you and for your little ones. It doesn’t last forever either. Separation anxiety usually tapers off once they reach the stage where they can communicate with others, not just mom and dad. I hope this helps and just know that it’s normal not wanting to leave your little ones, but it’s good for everyone when you do.

Love Crystal

If this is something you loved and want others to know, please share! <3

I’d also love to hear from you! Feel free to leave or comments below, or shoot me a message!

The Journey

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