Nearly every child goes through a period when they get really clingy and get upset if their parent is leaving. Babies can show signs of it around 6-7 months. It typically peaks around 10-18 months and reduces when they are about 2 years old. For episode 122, we discuss some things you can do help your baby and child:
– Get familiar with the caregiver. If you have a brand new person watching the baby, this may prove to be difficult. Give the baby some time to get to know the person who is taking care of them.
– Start small – When they are real young, try to start with a short amount of time. Maybe it’s half an hour or hour at first
– Say goodbye – Don’t sneak out the back. You disappearing isn’t very nice. Don’t cry or make it dramatic, just say a nice simple goodbye and give them a quick kiss or hug. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
– Make it Routine – You should practice leaving every once in a while. Having the child always with you at every moment will have them expect that. It’s ok to have some alone time, and it’s healthy for the child to develop that ability to be apart.
So what happens when your child continues to have separation anxiety as they get older?
According to webmd, if the child is over 6 years old and still having an extreme fear, they may have Separation Anxiety Disorder. This effects approx 4-5% of children in the US ages 7-11. It only effects 1.3% of teens. Both boys and girls are equal. It’s usually is treated with either psychotherapy or medications including some kind of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. If you do have a situation like this, I would suggest you seek professional help. There are things your child can learn as well as how you deal with them.
I think as parents, we often worry that because they are exeriencing these things (even when they are very young), they will have this forever. The good news is that it’s really a small percentage.
They key is re-inforcing your child’s independence and self-esteem. Allow them to do things for themselves. Allow them to try and fail. We on’t need to do everything for them. While we may have good intentions, it’s really not helping them. This can be from carrying things for them, getting them dressed, feeding them, cleaning up after them, and so many other tasks we do for them. Help them build the skills to handle these things themselves. It will help you and them.