How To Deal With Separation Anxiety
Wailing, screaming, clinging and a general unwillingness to let you out of sight for a second are all signs that your baby needs attention.
These are all signs that your baby, who was previously happy to go to anyone, is moving into the next developmental stage. You may also find that your sociable baby suddenly doesn’t want to go to anybody else but you. Separation anxiety often goes hand in hand with a fear of strangers.
Rest assured, however, that this is all a very normal part of development, which can occur any time from seven or eight months onwards as your baby discovers that you are a separate being from them.
Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding separation anxiety – although some children may suffer more than others, it is one of those inevitable stages of babyhood. But there are ways you can help ease the misery for both baby and yourself. One suggestion which many mums find effective, is to build up ‘settling in’ sessions with your childcare provider or crèche before you start back to work – start with an hour, gradually increasing over two weeks before you actually go back to work.
There’s no doubt that separation anxiety is upsetting for parents too. “I felt so guilty, like I had done something wrong,” says Alison, mum to 14-month-old Thomas. “Every time I left his line of vision, let alone the room, he started to cry. I found that keeping talking to him, so that he could hear my voice, really helped to keep him calm on those instances. And, although we had a recurrence of the tears when he started crèche, reassuring him every day that I would be back after he had played and had a nap seemed to help him settle.
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This communication is reputed to be the best way to reassure your little one, as they soon start to see that you will return as promised. This trust is one of the first steps towards independence and your baby having the confidence to do things on her own.