What to do for Separation Anxiety in Young Children

If you are going to be returning to work soon after being on maternity leave, you may be concerned that your little one will experience separation anxiety. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your baby is comfortable with staying with a new caregiver, as you return to work, or go on a much needed dinner date with adult company.

First, it is important to remember that babies are usually able to adjust to new caregivers, especially when they are young. When a child is younger than six months, he or she is usually able to stay with another babysitter or childcare provider during the day as long as their basic needs are being met, such as being fed, changed, and occasionally coddled.

However, between four and seven months, separation anxiety may occur because babies are starting to understand the principle of object permanence. This means that they are beginning to comprehend that when you are gone, they do not know when you will return, and will do everything in their power, such as tantrums, to make sure that you do not leave them.

It is important to prepare your baby for the separation weeks before you know you will be returning to work. Try leaving your baby in the nursery in his or her crib for a few minutes while you leave the room. Pay attention to your baby's response when you are not there, and try this for a few days at a time so that your baby will begin to understand the concept that just because you are gone temporarily, you will not be gone forever.

As your baby grows into a toddler, he or she may experience separation anxiety even more, although they will exhibit other signs that indicate they are growing more independent. One of the best ways to avoid or improve this is to make sure that your little one is exposed to social situations on a regular basis. This way, he or she will not be so taken aback when you have to leave them for short periods. Making sure that your baby is around people you can trust, such as long time friends, parents, or other family members will make your toddler more comfortable when he or she is without you, and you will feel better when you have to go off to work as well.

Making sure that you do all you can to treat and prevent separation anxiety in your child may also help to reduce the risk of anxiety disorders in the future.

Page Updated: November 11, 2016
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