Just the words separation anxiety gives me feelings of separation anxiety…yikes! It’s such a real thing and a LOT of children and adults suffer from it. Separation anxiety is a strange thing. A baby or toddler may not have it one day, but then the next day it may hit.
Sara Abbot, associate director of the Family Resource Counseling Center in Los Angeles says, “Separation anxiety can happen almost overnight, which makes it shocking to parents,” Even more than that, it can and in most cases carries over to later in life. The tears and feelings of abandonment are very real and emotionally traumatic. As disheartening as that may sound, it can be very helpful to remember that separation anxiety is completely normal, even healthy. “From the earliest years of life, we should want children to encounter ordinary adversity because it’s practice for building resilience,” says Aaron Cooper, Ph.D.
There is no set age from child to child. Separation anxiety typically first hits around 8 months, when babies suddenly grasp that their parents exist apart from them. It’s literally like turning on a light switch. They understand you leaving, but what they don’t understand is that you’re coming back. This anxiety may last several weeks, or even a few months, until your child realizes that you’re not, in fact, abandoning him for life.
To get make this as easy on your child as you can start practicing early. Most importantly DON’T BE SELFISH. Keep your goodbyes short. Don’t hang around for 10 minutes saying goodbye while they gush tears. You are doing this for your own benefit because you feel guilty leaving them. Say goodbye, and that you will see them later and walk away. Let them cry…trust me…they will stop very soon after your gone, but never will if your hanging around.
One more important thing to remember is don just “sneak off.” Talk about trauma! Let them know you’re leaving and reassure them that you will be back. Always reassure them, keep your promises and it will make it that much easier. If you want to go sit in the car and cry for 5 minutes do it! Leaving them will get easier and tears will fade once they are used to the fact that mommy is coming back.
Read more at parenting.com