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Monday, November 2, 2015

How to help your Child overcome Separation Anxiety in Toddlers

A challenge that comes without having a yaya is the separation anxiety Enzo had for more than a year with us, his parents. Being his primary caregiver, we spend most of the time together. Working as a part time teacher gave me more time to spend with Enzo. Our work being a 10 minute walk from our house gave me and my hubby more time to spend with him. The only person we can leave him to is my sister-in-law. For more than a year or two, Enzo would always cry before we leave for work. Every time it happens, it was heartbreaking! I did not want to leave him cause I did not want to not be able to carry him along. It was made worse as even if we just had to go to the bath, he would cry relentlessly. It was both sad and frustrating.

But after about a month after he turned two he was already able to overcome separation anxiety, and I am happy to say I overcome it too. Another milestone we achieved this week is that me and hubby was able to go out for about 30 minutes leaving Enzo with his cousins at my sister-in-law's house! We were so happy and proud of Enzo because he just waved "Bye!" to us and when we came back he joyfully welcomed us. It was a triumphant moment for all us. It also meant we can now go on date nights more! Yey!! 
So just in case you'd been wanting to help your child transition from #SepAnx and more date nigths, I am sharing some strategies effective for us.

But first, what really is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage that children go through. As children become attached to their primary caregiver, usually the mother, they form a secure base and a safe haven for them. This means that whenever they are confronted with a difficult and unfamiliar situation, they will only feel safe when they see their parents or their caregiver. This is threatened even more when their secure base and safe haven is away from them. Thus, it is a vital stage for children to understand and recognize that their secure base and safe haven (in this matter, you) is going to return. It usually starts at age two, when children can better understand their parents and are now testing their independence. 

Although, it is normal, it is best to help our children to have a smooth transition from an anxious to an assured and confident child. Here are some effective and practical tips: 

1. Explain to your child where you are going. Children understand a lot more than we assume they do. The more we explain to them what is happening, the more they understand things clearly. It is also best to be honest, and just tell them where we are really going. In example, if you're going to work, tell them that you're going to work than make excuses. They will eventually understand it. 

2. Say your goodbyes just once. When you say goodbye to your child, make sure you do it just once. Saying goodbye and coming back to your crying child does more damage to the process. Say goodbye and mean it. Please also avoid doing it for fun or to tease our child. We say goodbye only if someone is leaving and not to scare our children that we'll leave them even if we're not. 

3. Tough Love. Yes, this stage of development is heartbreaking. Who would want to hear their child cry and leave them, right? But, remember that this temporary heartache will eventually be a permanent assurance to our children. Assuring them that we are coming back for them always. 

4. Let go of your OWN separation anxiety. I realized that more than Enzo's separation anxiety, it was me who had a stronger separation anxiety. I was always anticipating that he'll cry and throw tantrums when I leave. I was doubting my own child. That is when I decided to be more confident about Enzo and believe that he can overcome his #SepAnx. Only when I let go of my own #SepAnx were we able to transition smoothly.

5. Make a secure attachment with your children. To overcome #SepAnx, parents should be able to build on moments that will in turn assure our children that we are always with them. The more attached they are to us, the easier it will be for them to explore their world. A securely attached child is confident that if they are confronted with stressful situation, they can and will be able to overcome it. 

It was not easy to transition Enzo from an anxious to an assured child, but the difficulty, heartache, and struggle was all worth it. I admit, I sometimes miss when Enzo cries when I leave but I am more proud of his accomplishments. I am now assured as his mother that he can do more and be more with or without my presence. 

And I am looking forward to more date nights from now on!!!!;) 

2 comments:

  1. I did not have a problem with #SepAnx (this is the first time I understood what #SepAnx stands for! LOL). with my first child. With the little girl, it was and still is hard to leave the house for work (or when I drop her off at school on school days), I just assure her that I will come back home. :( Thanks for the tips!

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    1. hihi yes, I learned it from my college students yung #Sepanx.

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