How to Ease “Normal” Separation Anxiety in Children

How to Ease “Normal” Separation Anxiety in Children

For children with normal separation anxiety, there are steps you can take to make the process of separation anxiety easier.

Practice separation. Leave your child with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances at first. As your child gets used to separation, you can gradually leave for longer and travel further.

Schedule separations after naps or feedings. Babies are more susceptible to separation anxiety when they’re tired or hungry.

Develop a quick “goodbye” ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a special wave through the window or a goodbye kiss. Keep things quick, though, so you can:

Leave without fanfare. Tell your child you are leaving and that you will return, then go—don’t stall or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Follow through on promises. For your child to develop the confidence that they can handle separation, it’s import you return at the time you promised.

Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar. Have the sitter come to your house. When your child is away from home, encourage them to bring a familiar object.

Have a consistent primary caregiver. If you hire a caregiver, try to keep them on the job long term to avoid inconsistency in your child’s life.

Minimize scary television. Your child is less likely to be fearful if the shows you watch are not frightening.

Try not to give in. Reassure your child that they will be just fine—setting consistent limits will help your child’s adjustment to separation.

If you have any concerns with your child’s separation anxiety or would like some more information, please consider an Occupational Therapy evaluation at TEAM 4 Kids!

 Jill Campbell COTA/L