You know that moment when you think all is well and you can make a clean break from your child without them crying? But as soon as you turn to leave the room you here, “where you going mommy?” As I tell him I’m off to work, the waterworks go off. Why? It’s not like I’m abandoning him for good. Does he forget that daddy is in office and isn’t going anywhere?
We went through this stage at about 14-18 months and thought it would never end. He’s going through it again now, but isn’t as bad. He asks why I have to go to work and he’s satisfied when I tell him if mommy doesn’t work we can’t go shopping at Target and Hobby Lobby! (He may think I get paid in gift cards.)
Here are a few other things we do to calm his separation anxiety:
Keep them occupied – I always give him something to do as I am walking out the door. This helps distract his mind from the fact that I am leaving.
Reassure – Always kiss and say goodbye. Then I tell him something we can do once I return. Such as read his favorite book, play in the backyard, build a fort, etc. (Make sure you are willing to keep your word – little ones don’t always forget.)
Don’t rush – I noticed that when I am in a rush and eager to leave is when he really wants more attention and makes it harder on both of you. Act as if you will be back in minutes and where you are going isn’t that important.
Find the triggers – We’ve noticed that Carson cannot be away from home more than 3 days. So if he goes to grandma’s for 2 days in a row, we know that the 3rd day he has to stay home with daddy while he works. He also starts looking out the window around 3:30 to be picked up and if daddy is late, my little guy will let him have it!
*Of course there are some days that nothing will calm him. Those are the days that are frustrating yet wonderful. It still means he’s my baby and needs me.
How do you help your child cope with separation anxiety?