Nothing is more stressful or heartbreaking for a parent than listening to their child cry when they leave them at preschool, with a babysitter, or at daycare. Unfortunately, separation anxiety is a real issue that most children deal with. The truth is, your child's entire life is consumed by being with you. You are your child's entire world.
If taking your child to a daycare or babysitter isn't something you've done from an early age, it is normal for him/her to react negative the first time you leave him/her for a few hours. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ease your child's separation anxiety.
1. Go Slowly
If it is possible, you should let your child visit the new daycare facility or home before the time you need to leave her/him alone with the caregiver. It will be easier for the child if mom or dad is close. Prior to preschool, it may be helpful to work the child up to spending time away from you by leaving him/her with someone else for a period of time. This way your child can get used to being away from you for small periods of time before he/she goes to preschool or daycare for several hours every day of the week.
2. Give a Reminder
Leave a special memento with your child when you leave. You could say you want them to hug a special stuffed pet when you come to his/her mind. You could also spray some of your cologne on it for special effects. It will relieve the child to have a special something such as a necklace to think of you while you are away. A photo or album might also be an effective reminder. If your child is older and knows how to read, a note from you in his/her packed lunch or snack can also be effective.
3. Don't Sneak Out
Chances are pretty good your little one will just be upset when he/she realizes you are gone. Plus, most children want the opportunity to say goodbye to their parent before the parent leaves.
4. Use Caution with Promises
It is important you don't make a promise of something you will do when you get back. Something could prevent the special trip or treat, and that can lead to disappointment that won't be forgotten.
5. Short and Sweet
Don't drag out the goodbyes to your special baby. Tell them you love them with a smile. Let them know you will be back and they will have a great day playing with friends or a great sitter.
As time passes, the separation anxiety your child suffers from will pass. Truthfully, your child loves you. He/she is always going to miss you when you are away. Your child, however, should be able to grow to spend time away from you without getting so upset.
Hopefully these suggestions will make dealing with separation anxiety a little easier for you and your children. And don't forget, it is OK for you to be sad and feel the separation anxiety as well. Most parents say the first time they are away from their child feels a lot like they are missing a limb. It will get easier though!