Toddler separation anxiety refers to the tendency of many small children to become anxious or upset when they are not with their parents or primary caregiver. Although there are instances when anxiety becomes exceptionally intense and may signify a real problem, toddler separation anxiety, is generally a normal part of growing up. Although it is a normal phase in childhood development, it can be problematic (not to mention heart-wrenching for parents who are leaving their child for only a few hours!). If your toddler has a predilection toward “freaking out” when you leave, consider these popular methods of fighting toddler separation anxiety.
One of the most effective was to deal with separation anxiety is with the use of a “transitional” item. Your child is given a toy, blanket or other comforting item prior to the moment of separation. A well-chosen transitional item can be quite soothing and can often prevent crying jags and other outbreaks often associated with toddler separation anxiety.
If parents plan to leave a child for an extended period and worry about the likelihood of separation anxiety, they may want to “prime the pump” in advance by leaving for shorter times. Children can learn that absences are temporary and if the parents lengthen the time of each departure, even the anxious shock of a long separation may be mitigated.
Any time a parent leaves a child who exhibits toddler separation anxiety; it is wise for him or her to offer verbal reassurances to the child that they will soon return. This reminds the child of the temporary nature of the absence and prevents them from being concerned about a long-term or permanent separation.
Many parents try to avoid the tears and cries of toddler separation anxiety by sneaking away when the child is otherwise occupied with his or her babysitter. That may be a great way of preventing an emotionally trying departure, but the plan tends to backfire. They child may feel betrayed or his or her feelings of concerned intensified when it is realized that mommy and daddy are nowhere to be seen and he or she has been left with another caretaker. Resist the urge to take the “easy way out.”
These four strategies can form the basis of a good plan for fighting off separation anxiety problems and scenes. If these approaches, used in combination, still fail to produce results, parents may simply have to “wait it out” or may want to investigate other tested strategies.
Childhood separation issues are quite common and unless the situation is completely out of control, one does not need to be too worried about the matter. As time passes, experience teaches children that temporary separations are, indeed, temporary. A toddler’s fits will soon be replaced by a simple “see you later” as toddler separation anxiety naturally runs its course and fades away.
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