Back to school after a week off and do you feel you have to battle all over again with getting them to Nursery, Pre-School, School, College? It’s heart-breaking and frustrating for all those involved, the pangs of guilt that stay with you for the rest of the day, making it exhausting. You are doing the right thing by seeing it through, dropping them off and walking away…..these are life skills that they will take with them forever.
What is separation anxiety….?
Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one — usually a parent or other caregiver — to whom the child is attached. Some children also develop physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches, at the thought of being separated. The fear of separation causes great distress to the child and may interfere with the child’s normal activities, such as going to school or playing with other children.
Symptom’s of Separation Anxiety..
- An unrealistic and lasting worry that something bad will happen to the child if he or she leaves the caregiver
- Refusal to go to school in order to stay with the caregiver
- Refusal to go to sleep without the caregiver being nearby or to sleep away from home
- Fear of being alone
- Nightmares about being separated
- Bed wetting
- Complaints of physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches, on school days
- Repeated temper tantrums or pleading
This is distressing for both parent and child, also exhausting.
Here’s some suggestions when dealing with separation anxiety:
- Create quick good-bye rituals. Even if you have to do high fives or dabs!! Give triple kisses at the door, maybe provide a tissue with a familiar smell on it (your perfume/aftershave?), keep the good-bye short and sweet. If you linger, the transition time does too. So will the anxiety.
- Be consistent. Try to do the same drop-off with the same ritual at the same time each day you separate to avoid unexpected factors whenever you can. A routine can diminish the heartache and will allow your child to simultaneously build trust in her independence and in you. In that routine you can tell them what YOU will be doing with your day, so they can picture it and know that you are safe.
- Attention: When separating, give your child full attention, be loving, and provide affection. Then say good-bye quickly despite their antics or cries for you to stay.
- Keep your promise. You’ll build trust and independence as your child becomes confident in her ability to be without you when you stick to your promise of return. The biggest mistake in this regard is returning to class to “visit” your child after a terrible transition. You may be distressed and missing them, and although the return was well intended, you’ll only extend the separation anxiety, and start all over again with the process of leaving. The returning a second time can be near nuclear with the devastation you leave behind.
- Be specific, child style. When you discuss your return, provide specifics that your child understands. If you know you’ll be back by 3:15 pm, tell it to your child on his terms; for example, say, “I’ll be back to pick you up at 3:15pm which is when school finishes.” Define time they can understand. Talk about your return from a trip in terms of “sleeps.” Instead of saying, “I’ll be home in 3 days,” say, “I’ll be home after 3 sleeps.”
- Practice being apart. Ship the children off to friends and family, schedule playdates, allow friends and family to provide child care for you (even for an hour) on the weekend. Practice going to school and your good-bye ritual before you even have to part ways. Give your child a chance to prepare, experience, and thrive in your absence!
Just a few tips, it will get harder before it gets easier, but remain consistent, and don’t take the guilt with you, they will learn to self regulate with out you. Remain focused and positive, making sure you have the time to process the emotions you feel.
I hope this helps…..
Love and warmth always,
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