Anyone experiencing Separation Anxiety?

Bradi - posted on 07/21/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )

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My son has gone to sleep away camp for the summer (he is 10yrs. old) and I miss him terribly! So, I reached out to MyWorkButterfly.com's resident Psychotherapist for some advice... hope it helps you too!


Q: What's the best way to manage separation anxiety as a parent and as a child? (ie: sleep away camp experience, childcare, new school)

A: Separation anxiety is a common thing for kids and for parents. Not only can a child experience separation anxiety, but a parent can as well in regards to leaving their child either in camp, school, day care, etc. First I will focus on the parent. It is critical to recognize that a parents' separation anxiety can be transferred (or projected) onto a child. It is very common for children to experience separation anxiety when the parent does. Children feel our emotions and pick up on them. SO, as a parent it is important to do the best you can to keep it in check while trying: not to be too dramatic, to give big hugs, a kiss and let them know you love them and send them on their way. Then, walk away and cry your eyes out. It is OK to show a tear or two, but leave the hysterics to the privacy of your car or somewhere else your kids can't see you. If it is your child that has separation anxiety, the rule is to think of drop-off like taking off a bandaid, nice and quick. The longer you delay, the longer your child will get upset and/or cling to you. As hard as it may be, give yourself the two/three minute rule and don't stay any longer than that, no matter what. Even if you have to have your child pulled off of you crying, I promise you, the quicker you walk away the quicker they will get over it. Evidence shows, even the worst cases, a child typically will only cry for 5 minutes and then they go on to have a great day. There are always exceptions to the rule but separation anxiety is usually a phase and it is important to recognize that this will pass. Remember, leaving your child crying, as hard as that is, truly just enforces confidence in them and shows them that they can do it, that mommy will always be back and that they can survive with out you. Yes, mom, I said survive with out you. So, if there are any moms out there who are scared of their kids surviving without them, then the separation anxiety is on YOU, not them.

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Varda - posted on 07/21/2010

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great words, well written - also babies - the more open we are in sharing them and opening them to others - the more they will go free to other family members.
Our babies and children feel every emotion we have and many times their behavior is a reflection of us.

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11 Comments

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Corinne - posted on 08/04/2010

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i did a report for my dev psy on this topic:) and exsperince fist hand

what worked really well is a routine .

mommy signs us in.

then we walk to our cubby

read a short story

hugs and good byes

whatever you do dont give in to their crying and go back after you started to leave.

It makes it woarse and feeds into the insucerity.

make the most of the time you have together:)

I always felt bad but it a skill in there life.

a good game to play to help ease the anxiety is peek a boo:)

Jenny - posted on 08/03/2010

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My daughter just started daycare on Monday and I am having such a hard time with it, as is she. She's 10 months old and refuses to nap or eat and then acts like a zombie at night and can't keep her head up because she's so exhausted. When it was her and I at home we had a very relaxed schedule, we did whatever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to, but now there is a routine and a schedule. I feel like I am harming her by having her go to daycare, that she would be much happier with me.

Christina - posted on 07/30/2010

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for an entire year my son would scream so the whole apartment buildin could hear him every mornin and the sitter thank god she is an awesome lady jst put up with him everyday and now he is so good at lettin me go im almost ready to cry wen i leave

SheNesia - posted on 07/25/2010

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my son currently stays with my mom because of how i work and its so hard. I honestly think no I do know I have seperation anxiety because he's not here with me. But when he comes home he doesnt want to leave. He says i want to stay with you mama and I cry and hurt as if I don't already know my reason behind him staying with my mother. I reassure him that it will be soon and I let him know I love him and will always be here and mommy's working hard to bring him home.

Lika - posted on 07/23/2010

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For the children, what helps is to start off small, when they're little, at a trusted person's house, say Grandma's. Another good way to help your child is to let them be kids with other kids. So, if you have a fenced in yard, or the neighbor does, go let the kids play, and sit in the kitchen to watch. Your child will gain what (s)he needs to be more independent, and at least for the time being, you have satisfaction of knowing your child is safe.

At this time, your child will be fine to go to camp. My 10 year old is out with his grandpa going fishing in a different state... about 6-7 hours away... He's fine. I missed him after only a few hours. *sigh* The hardest part is being mom and letting go. The rest is easy, in comparison.

Doris - posted on 07/23/2010

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Hello Dear Friend
I am a daycare provider and have had children that had to stay over night or longer periods of time away from Mom and Dad. It is hard for all children to get adjusted to being apart and just when they do it is about time to go back home LOL..The funny thing is it hurts parents more then the kids. Say goodbye quickly act relaxed and let him know that you EXPECT him or her to have a wonderful time that is why they are going to camp. It is a wonderful experience for both of you.

Esme - posted on 07/23/2010

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I admit it , it is ALL me ... My son is 15 for goodness sakes and I find myself lost when he is away. Maybe this is harder for the single parents ( I am one) and only children ( he is one)?

On one hand I am excited he's going away I get some private time - long overdue , but on the other, when he's gone I'm all 6's and 7's and can't concentrate.

He of course is thrilled to be off.

Although life goes on, the work day survived, a glass of wine with the gals, a walk with the dog , etc I don't feel like I have been breathing until he returns. God help me when he's off to University.

Yanira - posted on 07/22/2010

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I have the same problem with my 15 months old son, as soon as he sees me move away from him he will cry and hold on to me, I leave him every day at day care and as soon as we go in the class room he starts reacting to me leaving but I usually play with him for a few minutes before I leave but he won't let go the entire time. Also when I take him anywhere he would hold on to me all the time and won't let anyone else touch him. I don't know what to do because I would like to have at least an hour a month for myself but I can't and it's hard specially being a single parent in the military. Can someone tell me how I can help my son with his separation anxiety problem? I love him a lot and I hate seeing him crying with the you're guilty look on his face.

Victoria - posted on 07/22/2010

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that is so me! every time I drop my 21 month old off somewhere I feel instantly sad I have to leave her. She starts crying and it makes me feel even worse that I have to leave her. its so hard when you have to work full time. Everyone always tell me she is fine after about 5 minutes just like you said! I guess I really need to work on letting go a bit better. Its amazing the attachment you can build with your child/children!

Casie - posted on 07/22/2010

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My son is 12 and is away at camp for 3 weeks. I miss him, but were both excited he's there. It's awesome, I can spend 4 hours with him on Sunday's and we have a great time. He used to me not being around alot any way cause I work 80 miles one way from home. Neither one of us have ever cried because we had to be away from each other, but when he comes home our relationship seems so much better. I'm a single mother and always have been and we get at each other very often when I'm home. I guess he gets tired of having to hear only my voice tell him what to do, and get on to him when he needs it. I can only imagine, LOL. It really sucks I have to be both mom and dad, but I manage and we seem to get through it all, together.

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