What can you do about separation anxiety?

Aug 11, 2017

You may have savored the moments when your infant preferred you to anyone else, but as they get bigger and they fall apart whenever you try to head to bathroom by yourself, their neediness and attachment seems unbearable.  The good news is that separation anxiety is a normal developmental phase that nearly all children go through, fortunately it is not permanent.

Separation anxiety typically begins after the age of 6 months, which is when your child realizes that you and she are separate…which means that if you are separate, you can leave her.  She has also gained the skill of keeping a picture of you in her mind, so the out of sight out of mind reprieve that eased separations in the beginning, is now replaced with fears of abandonment and emotional distress. Separation Anxiety waxes and wanes through the toddler years, but researchers agree that heightened separation anxiety passes between 18 months and 2 ½ years.  By age 3, most children have fully grown out of this phase.

Some tips that our Parenting Educators have shared for easing issues that can come up around separations:

  • Always wave bye-bye when you leave…try to avoid sneaking off
  • Try a transitional object
  • Prepare them for your departure and return, let them know what they will be doing while you are gone
  • Set up gradual transitions, maybe let a secondary caregiver act as the go-between
  • Leave at the same time
  • Get them busy in an activity
  • Support them as they learn to cope, reassure them but also understand that you can do whatever you need to do and they will be okay

Category: Parenting Topics