Separation anxiety is something that happens in the normal course of development of most babies; even for healthy secure babies.
While it is not an abnormal occurrence or something that has to be worried about, separation anxiety is quite stressful for a parent to witness, who may feel torn at having to leave the child even for a short period of time.
Separation anxiety is something that starts to happen by about 8 months of age or when the baby senses itself as being separate from its primary care giver and does not understand yet that things that are out of sight do still continue to exist. Separation anxiety could continue till the child turns three.
When a parent or principal caregiver of a baby goes away, the baby cries, not understanding the concept of ‘returning in a while’.
The child may also cry[crying baby] when the parent returns because at the time he or she is reminded of the feelings felt when the parent left. Separation anxiety may be lessened or controlled to a degree with the following tips:
- Don’t sneak off when the baby isn’t watching or is unaware of your leaving. If the child asks for you later and finds you gone, he or she may find this even more stressful than if he or she saw you leave. There may even be some sense of betrayal that mommy sneaked off like that without telling.
- Never scold or berate a child for starting to cry as you begin to leave. Rather lovingly explain that you have to go somewhere for a specific purpose. Even if the baby is not old enough to understand or fully comprehend the words, the power of a loving embrace and gentle soothing words is considerable.
- If you made a promise, keep it. If you said you would return by the time it got dark then make sure you do. A broken promise is not likely to lessen the baby’s apprehension or resultant separation anxiety the next time that you leave.
- Give a build up to the person who will be looking after your child when you’re gone. Tell your baby about how much fun he or she will have with aunt or uncle who will be looking after them. In fact you could initiate a game that will carry on after you leave and the other caregiver then taking the lead in engaging with the child.
- Don’t let the tears or the sad face coax you into staying a little longer and then a little longer and so on. Sometimes it may just be best to explain that you have to go gently but firmly and then leave. There is really no sense in prolonging the agony so to speak.