5 Tips How to Help Kids with Separation Anxiety
When parents think about separation anxiety in kids, they might think about the first day of school. While this is a time when most children can feel anxious and unsure, it is just one event in their formative years that could trigger separation anxiety.
Right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic and schools closed, your kids might be experiencing another type of separation anxiety because they are not able to spend time with their friends or their teachers. Even though many schools are using teleconferencing and other means to stay in contact with students, this just may not be enough to satisfy your little ones.
It is perfectly normal for kids to experience separation anxiety from the time of about 14 months through the time they enter middle (junior high) school. Most kids grow out of their separation anxiety issues as they become more comfortable being away from home and their parents.
Other children, however, may require a little more individualized attention and counseling to deal with their separation anxiety when it starts to affect their normal routines, friends, family, and social activities.
Tip #1: Establish a Set Routine
When your child has a scheduled routine from the time they get up until they go to bed, it creates structure. This structure can help ease anxiety issues, as they know exactly what they will be doing and when. They also know what times they will be away from mom and dad and when they will be reunited.
Tip #2: Don’t Make Goodbyes Long and Drawn Out
When mom or dad must travel for business, or when dropping the kids off at school, keep goodbyes short and to the point. Give them a hug, say goodbye, and tell them to have a nice day. Doing so will allow you to leave and not give your child much time to think about it.
Tip #3: Relate to Your Child in Terms They Understand
Make sure your child understands how long you will be gone in terms that fit their age. You cannot tell a child you will be back to get them from school at 3:30 if they can’t tell time. Instead, explain it in terms they know—like “I will be back this afternoon after you have recess, eat lunch, and do your afternoon schoolwork and in time for your afternoon snack.”
Tip #4: Hire a Professional Nanny to Help
Nannies for hire are a great way to help establish a primary caregiver for the child. Having a professional nanny is ideal for families where both parents travel for work or have late-night meetings and other commitments that keep them from being home more than they would like. A nanny creates stability for your child because they know there will always be someone readily available who cares about them.
Tip #5: Never Break a Promise
One of the biggest things that can trigger separation anxiety is when a parent does not follow through on a promise they have made their child. For instance, you promise you are going to be back from your business trip in time for their soccer match.
Yet, you are delayed and, when your child looks for you, you aren’t there. This triggers fear and anxiety. Only make promises you can keep.
How to help kids with separation anxiety will vary depending on their age. If the problem does not seem to go away as they get older, consider counseling to find out why they are still having separation anxiety issues.