Separation Without The Anxiety
Did you know that you shouldn’t try to avoid bouts of separation anxiety by sneaking away when your child isn’t looking?
This may be tempting given her reaction of separation from you, but experts agree that this is more likely to develop or create more anxiety.
Instead, saying a loving but quick goodbye, even if your child cries or screams. Crying will subside usually within a few minutes.
By establishing a consistent pattern of attentive goodbyes and reunions, you can build your child’ s confidence in you and your relationship.
Confidence and learning seem to be bound together to face up to the various challenges that children will face in their world. In an early years environment children will meet new people, new ways of playing, new activities and if each of these is met and coped with successfully they will develop more confidently.
With each success comes a boost in self-esteem and self-respect.
Children will feel happy about themselves and as a valued member of the group.
How do confidence and social independence typically develop?
Babies are of course totally dependent on the caregiver but can begin to develop a social awareness of others within the close proximity of a main caregiver.
The one year old is usually very dependent on a main caregiver and may find it difficult to separate unless the situation is very familiar. Visiting regularly to ‘accompanied classes’ where new experiences and learning opportunities are offered in a nurturing environment helps young children begin to understand that there are ‘others’ within the group. This also begins to broaden their
experiences of positive interactions between their caregiver and others outside of their home environment.
From 18 months or so children may explore more independently with a main caregiver present or in another room nearby. Gradual short separations can begin at these times.
As children begin to go though a separation process they will often build an attachment to a particular person, this could be a teacher or sometimes even another child.
Supporting Positive Separations or Transitions
- Start with short separation times, children need to learn that the caregiver will return. This builds trust and understanding that you will return shortly.
Young children do not learn the concept of ‘time’ until they are a little older, usually when they have developed confidence through prior separation experiences.
- Once these shorter separations are successful extend the lengths of separation times.
- Demonstrate positive interactions between all involved caregivers during the transition times, this promotes a strong feeling of trust to the child.
- Stay calm – displaying your own anxieties both verbally and non-verbally can be detrimental in giving mixed messages which children sense very quickly.
- Consistency is important in the ‘goodbye.’ If you give a quick kiss and a wave goodbye then make sure that the routine is followed, even when in a rush!
- A comforter from home often helps such as a favourite toy or blanket. Comforters such as these often may have the familiar scents form home as well as the positive feelings associated with them. These are used for as long as needed and can often be found discarded by the child as they become less dependent on them.
- Sharing information about likes and dislikes are useful along with favorite songs, stories and characters.
- For children who are preverbal it is essential to share information about how your child expresses themselves and of course how they like to be comforted. Not all children like to be picked up, hugged, some may like
their hair or back stroked, others may prefer the caregiver to be just nearby.
- If it is a transition into a new school or class then taking photographs of the entrance area, class door, class teacher and the playground area are all useful in sharing discussions about those changes.
It is important to remember that it is ‘usual’ and ‘’healthy’ for children to be upset and or cry during the initial separation process, children need time to build different and new ‘attachments’ with new people in new enviro