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When my 5 year old was a toddler she went through a long period of separation anxiety. I couldn’t leave her in bible class for more than 10 minutes at a time because she would scream at the top of her lungs. It was a very trying time as a parent and a difficult transition for my child. Still, we got through it slowly but surely. If your child is experiencing separation anxiety, try these five tips to help him or her overcome it.
#1 Start by leaving your child for small amounts of time
When your child is use to being with you on a regular basis, try leaving him or her with others for brief periods of time so they can get use to it. This will help the transition go more smoothly than if you leave them for long periods of time without you. Start with 10 or 15 minutes, and work your way up to a half-hour. Eventually, you will be able to leave your son or daughter with other people for long periods of time. Do your best to be patient and persistent, keeping in mind that this is a brief period of adjustment that will soon pass.
#2 Leave them with people they know in the beginning
Begin by leaving your child with people they know. Leaving them with strangers in the beginning can be scary for them and nerve-racking for you. If children are left with people they are familiar with, they will have an easier time trusting them, resulting in less separation anxiety.
#3 Assure him or her that you will be back
Even young children are very smart, and assuring them that you will be back to pick them up is very helpful. I suggest giving your son or daughter a hug and kiss and telling them you will see them soon while you are still in the car. If you reassure them ahead of time, you can drop them off quickly and sneak away before they begin to cry and get clingy.
#4 Leave them with a favorite stuffed animal
My 5-year-old adores her stuffed animals and still likes to take them places with her. They help comfort her and make her feel secure. Stuffed animals are very soothing to children, especially when they have had them for a long time. This is because they are able to recognize their stuffed friend as something stable in their life.
#5 Bring a small surprise when you pick up your child
It can be beneficial to bring a small surprise when you pick up your child. If you bring them something each time, they feel they are getting something from being away from you. In addition, over time they will see that you consistently bring them something every single time, which will build security that you will return. Simple surprises, including small stuffed animals, books or coloring books (depending upon the age of the child) will be appreciated.