8 month old with severe separation anxiety

Megan - posted on 10/16/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )

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My 8 month old has severe separation anxiety..it is so bad her caregiver has decided she can no longer watch her. She was in an in home daycare twice a week....one caregiver and four to five other children. She often cried the entire time she was at daycare and hasn't seemed to bond with anyone but my husband and myself. She is very timid around strangers and rarely let's anyone hold her. How can I teach her to trust people....would a tradition daycare be better or worse for a timid child.

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Chet - posted on 10/16/2014

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8 months is prime time for severe separation anxiety. To a large extent, this is just a normal developmental stage, and something you need to wait out. The worst of it is usually over by about 14 months.

Some parents and childcare providers find that two days a week is too infrequent for a baby or young toddler to settle in and become comfortable. You might do better with your daughter going four or five times a week - if not long term, for a period of time until she settles in and forms an actual bond and attachment to person who will be caring for her. If she has a four or five day gap between some of her visits that's a lifetime for an eight month old baby.

Understand that at this age your daughter hasn't developed object permanence yet. She doesn't know that you still exist even when she can't see you or hear you - which can be very stressful if she's in an unfamiliar place with people she hasn't bonded with. She doesn't understand time and that you will come back later. In older children separation anxiety can be a real concern, but at this age, it demonstrates very healthy social development.

If you can't work around this and need childcare I would consider having a nanny come to your home so your daughter's surroundings are familiar, or I would find somebody who is willing to have just your daughter, or maybe your daughter and one other child. For babies a lot of people find a nice grandma who is happy to dote on a baby and give them their full attention. The noise and activity of the other children may be stressful for your daughter, or she may need more attention to be comfortable what a person with five children in their care is able provide.

Just because your daughter is like this doesn't mean she is going to have a lifetime of trust issues. Our youngest only glared at strangers until he was three and a half. At five, he's very social, and chatty and outgoing. We didn't push, we just provided him with lots of reassurance and security and he struck out when he was ready.

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