Easing Separation Anxiety
Anyone who's ever tried to beat a hasty retreat from daycare drop-off with a despondent kid sobbing in the background knows that separation anxiety is a very, very real thing. And when your baby turns on the waterworks if you so much as leave the room, it can be frustrating, upsetting and guilt-inducing. It's also totally normal, and fortunately, it won't last forever. In the meantime, here are three steps that will help you - and baby - get through it.
- Understand the "why." Infants aren't aware of anything that isn't in their sight. Once your little one gets a bit older - around 6 months, usually - he knows that when you're not in the room with him, you're still somewhere. And he wants you there! This is why babies who have never minded drop-offs before suddenly become clingy and teary, even with familiar locations and faces.
- Keep calm and get out quickly. With your baby's desperate cries in your ears, it's tempting to stay just another few minutes to soothe him. First of all, if he sees that you're upset, he'll think something's really wrong -- so keep your own tears under wraps (at least until you're safely out of sight). Second, know that as soon as you're safely out of sight and he knows he can't get you to stay by crying, he'll be just fine.
- While you shouldn't prolong your goodbyes, don't sneak out, either. Let him know when you're leaving (even if you're just leaving the room for a minute or two) and why. Explain it in a straightforward way, even if he's too little to understand exactly what you're saying, and then be sure to greet him when you come back so he knows you came back just like you promised. Eventually, he'll pick up on the pattern. Knowing when you are going somewhere will keep him from being anxious that you're going to disappear.