Managing Separation Anxiety in Kids
So here we are. Cold, flu, RSV, and Covid-19 sick days aside, we’re technically back to whatever real life we find ourselves in. Back to school. Back to sports. Back to life. And if back-to-life jitters have become back-to-life anxiety, what should we do? Separation anxiety usually affects babies and toddlers and Kindergarteners. But these days kids of all ages are suffering all kids of anxiety, especially separation anxiety.
First you should ask: Who is having the separation anxiety? Moms and dads often have the toughest time letting go of the little ones. They hug and re-hug, begin to tear up and then hover… peering through the windows or the doorway, hoping that the adjustment will go well.
We have many opportunities to guide our children with our own behaviour, and that means taking a good look at what we are doing and what we want to be doing when we send our children on their way.
When we allow our parent-emotions to get in the way, we can overwhelm our youngsters who have their own feelings to manage. You need a new plan. Set your child up by involving her in the planning process and then practicing that plan.
4 Steps to Managing Separation Anxiety
1. Help your child to find their courage
Think of the people who love you and find your courage to walk into school or the gym, even if you are feeling uncomfortable.
2. What will they tell themself to build that courage?
“I can do this.” “Mom and Dad will be OK without me.” “I’m going play with my favourite toy today.”
3. Make a plan
Routines give everyone a better sense of predictability and control. Plan and practice what the goodbye will look like. You will walk them to the door, do your three-second hug, say “See you at pick up, I know you can do it,” and walk away. They’ll say their words from step two.
Stick to the plan. If you keep it simple then they will think it’s simple.
4. Walk away
Having practiced the routine ahead of time, you can now do your goodbye routine with your child and walk away. Then you can cry or jump for joy and go have a coffee!