How to deal with separation anxiety and the terrible twos
One of the hardest things my wife and I encountered with our first child was the separation anxiety of those first few times in day care. I have to say that we also made several, if not all, of the mistakes listed below!
I wish there was some way to explain to our young children that when we have to leave them in a strange place with other strangers, it hurts us as much as it hurts and scares them, sometimes we parents feel it even more!
As much as separation anxiety or leaving your child, even for a little while, can really hurt and our child may seem devastated, caregivers are really telling the truth when they tell you that they only cried for a few minutes and then had a great day. ! Of course, sometimes it’s a different story, but for the most part, it always ends well and our own behavior plays a big part in how they deal with the breakup.
Read the following tips and see how it goes for you!
1. Take charge and stay in control!
This is your number one priority! It goes without saying that you will feel scared, worried, worried or excited as much as they do. However, you can’t show this emotion as it will make your toddlers’ fears go away immediately!
What worked for us was really talking about how much fun they were going to have and that we were sorry we were going to miss it!
2. The art of goodbye
The worst thing you can do is drag out the goodbye with lots of extra hugs and kisses and just generally hang around to “make sure they’re okay.”
This tells your child that you are also a little worried about him and his surroundings, which again will not allow him to settle in comfortably.
All you need to do is give them a hug and a kiss and confidently tell them you’re leaving now, you’ll be back soon, and have a great day.
I have seen many parents try to use the “quick escape” approach. This is when you wait for your toddler to look away or pick up a toy and then quickly sneak away while he’s distracted. Your son is not stupid and sooner than later he will notice that you have left him alone without saying goodbye. This breeds mistrust faster than anything else.
3. Socializing is very relaxing
It is much easier to leave your child in the hands of familiar and trusted people.
Socialize whenever possible with the caregivers in the nursery at the small windows found at pick-up and drop-off or throughout the center, family fun days are invaluable for breaking the ice and getting to know both teachers and parents of other children.
If possible, try to set up some playdates with the other kids in your child’s class outside of the center. This will allow them to see more familiar faces when you leave them and you might make new friends too.
4. Make friends with the teacher
You just left behind your most prized and beloved possession! Doesn’t it make a lot of sense to try to make friends and build a relationship between you and your toddler’s teacher or caregiver? They do not have to conquer you and in fact it is the other way around.
Being friends with the teacher will ensure that your child picks up the positive vibes and, as a result, trusts him as well.
Plus, you’ll always hear more details about their day, any issues they may have had, and you’ll have much more success arranging meetings or time to see them to talk about your child.
5. Arrive on time
We’ve already discussed how long goodbyes can cause separation anxiety, but a late pick-up can do just as much damage.
Your child, just like any other child in that room, will always glance at the door with anticipation to see whose mom or dad has come to pick them up every time it opens.
Just like being picked last for school sports teams, it’s terrible to be last standing, especially if it happens on a regular basis. As much as possible, try to be on time for pickup and try not to leave them late too often.
Separation anxiety is just another challenge on the path of parenthood, but with the right strategies and helpful advice, you’ll successfully overcome it and move on to your next terrifying challenge of two (or 3, 4 and more!).