I’ve been grappling with my toddler’s stages of separation anxiety for what feels like a very long time. When it seems like we are almost at the end of it, we are hit with another one.
Now when I am out of sight it is an immediate, “Mommy’s gone,” phrase that comes out of my toddler’s mouth. I have always created opportunities to let him know that I will be right back, that I am going upstairs for something, or I am leaving to use the bathroom. But in the past couple of weeks, it’s been on a whole other level. We’ve reached the immediate crying and screaming level of separation anxiety.
Do I get an award for reaching this level?
I always make sure that I am leaving him with people I trust and I always tell him that I will be right back. I’ve done some research, I’ve watched all the child psychology videos about how to handle these situations, and none of it seems to be really working at the moment. But I am trying my hardest to stick to a routine when it comes to saying bye — even if it’s for a few minutes.
We’ve been successfully able to leave him with my parents for a few hours at a time without any incidents and as I’m looking into schools for my toddler, I’m getting increasingly worried that it will be difficult for him to manage our separation. I’ve been told that in time it will pass. I can only imagine my anxiety isn’t helping the situation either.
I decided to look into how to help my toddler when it comes to saying “bye-bye”. Usually books help us with these concepts as we can read them every night and he starts to memorize the words. We got the “It’s Bye-Bye Time” book from the library and that only made his fear worse. So that’s going to be returned and move on to something else.
I decided to do a little more digging and found some strategies to work on with my little one and if you’re going through the same thing, it might work for you.
Here are some tips:
- Talk it out: Chat with your child about what to expect when you’re apart and reassure them that you’ll come back. You can also try practicing short separations and gradually increase the time.
- Stick to a routine: Consistency is key! Establish a separation routine and stick to it. This can help your child feel more secure and know what to expect.
- Distract and engage: Give your child an engaging activity or toy to distract them during separation. This can help them shift their focus away from their anxiety.
- Provide comfort: Give your child a special item, like a blanket or stuffed animal, that they can take with them during separation. This can provide them with comfort and security.
- Positive vibes: Praise your child for coping with separation and give them positive feedback when they’re successful. This can help build their confidence and reduce their anxiety.
We’ve already started to establish to a routine of what we say when it’s bye-bye time. I hope that as we practice it more, along with the other tips listed above, we will overcome this together.
If you have more tips or suggestions, feel free to add yours in the comments.