Separation Anxiety and Your Toddler

Your toddler may be busy engrossed in some activity and then you decide to do something more profitable with your time instead of watching them or doing your important thing somewhere they can’t see you. The screams and howls that will follow will leave you wondering whether something bit your child or if your child truly can’t live without you.

It will get you all mushy and happy at first because, gosh, this little angel can’t bear to be away from me even for a second! Sniff! Sniff! Honestly, it is a lovely feeling to have someone react like that because of you. But then it will also come at times when a tantrum is the last thing any of you needs. It can be annoying once you get used to it and because you don’t see the sense in it. Here are a few of the drawbacks you may experience.

  1. Guilt

Sometimes you’re dashing out to meet an important client or dropping your child off at day care or preschool and it leaves you feeling so bad. It’ll take all your energy not to go back and sit with them for a while (and you probably will the first few times). On your way to wherever you’re going you’ll question your values and expertise as a parent and will probably wonder whether you have your priorities straight.

You will probably wonder whether you’re going to have to send your kid to therapy later on in life but calm down a little. It’s a normal phase.

  1. It genuinely hurts your child   

Separation anxiety is real and normal for your child at this age. They’ve had your full attention all this time but now you suddenly feel the need to leave. It leaves them feeling vulnerable and probably wondering whether they’ll be safe in your absence.

If you’re not careful this can easily leave your child taking control of your every move but we wouldn’t want that, now would we? The best approach would be to accommodate your child’s anxieties while showing them that they will be just fine and you’ll be back.

There are those who thrive on this attachment though, often worrying whether their children will totally disconnect from them. They won’t detach from you that easily since you aren’t disappearing into oblivion for the next 20 years. They’ll see you in the next two hours won’t they?

This is a great chance for you to teach your child that they will be okay without you and that they’ll see you soon. Of course, come back soon and continue like nothing happened!

How to make it a little easier

  1. Just go

Okay, not really. When you need to leave, don’t disappear on your child but at the same time don’t let it become such a production. Let your child know that you’ll be leaving in a short while. Expect and anticipate a little struggle when you’re about to leave but don’t let it get to you.

Say your goodbyes confidently, plant a big sloppy kiss on your baby’s cheek and walk out the door. Tell them you love them and that they’ll be fine.

  1. Smile reassuringly

Children can smell a fake so smile genuinely. Don’t look so worried about leaving because your toddler will think that you’d rather stay and then they’ll add more fuel. Your child needs to see that you’re okay with this too (even if you’re not).

Separation is difficult for both the child and the mother but it is not impossible. It will allow your child to develop trust in other people (which is healthy) and they will learn that people can go and come back which reduces their fear about being left. You’re helping your child build a healthy human relationship so it’s not all thorny.


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