How to gently deal with separation anxiety? - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-03-2010, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 16 months now and the separation anxiety just seems to be getting worse and worse. It just breaks my heart if I ever have to leave his sight, even for a moment. I went back to work when he was 11 mo, and DH is now the full-time parent. He was younger then, so it was a bit of an adjustment but they got used to each other quicker than I expected. I leave the house before he wakes up, and DS seems to do fine with that. If he does wake up to see me at home, he knows I'm sticking around for the day. Thus, we don't have have to say too many "good-byes," just a lot of "hellos." But man, when those goodbyes do happen, they're just heart wrenching.

 

I guess the main issue is that DH and I just don't get any time to ourselves anymore. It's getting to be a bit draining. We've been trying for months to figure out a way to go on a date without making DS miserable. As it stands, the only dates we get are when he's in the sling asleep and we go to a restaurant!

 

Just today, DH had to go somewhere and I was held up at work, so DH left DS with my brother, whom DS knows very well and sees at least 3-4x per week. By the time I got home, DS had been with my brother for about 45 minutes, crying hysterically the entire time. He immediately became happy and playful when I came home, though he continued to sob lightly for a good hour even while I was home playing with him.

 

I don't feel like this behavior is abnormal -- he loves other people and is perfectly happy socializing with just about anybody as long as he knows we're nearby. I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do to help DS get used to being away from us for short periods of time? I love that he's as attached to us as he is, but I would love to take DH out for a proper date -- he deserves it for all the work he does as stay-at-home dad!

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Old 12-04-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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I think that is when the SA seems to peak for a a lot of kids, or get really intense.  It could last until he is 2. 

 

But I think by *not* seeing you leave in the AM, it might actually be doing his a disservice.  Kids learn that when mommy goes, she comes back by seeing mommy leave, and then seeing mommy come back. 

 

So you should set up a time where he will be with a caring caregiver, and where he sees you leave and then return after a short time, 20 minutes or so....

 

The key is that whoever you leave him with can comfort him, and hold him while you are gone.


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Old 12-04-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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This too shall pass.

 

Hugs, and I'm sorry.  DD had the WORST separation anxiety.  It was literally painful to me to hear her scream.  And she would go for hours and hours, until I came home.  I couldn't even leave the room.  Heck, I couldn't walk towards the door of the room we were in without her melting down!  And the thing is that I'm a SAHM and we don't have much money so rarely have sitters and I really don't leave her all that much... which made it so much worse when I did, I think.

 

I wish I could help, because I sure didn't find any way to fix it other than to wait for her to grow out of it.  "Mama always comes back" became my mantra.  I repeated it to her about a hundred times a day, even when I wasn't going anywhere.  I just wanted it firmly ingrained in her head.  I have no idea if it helped, I would overhear her muttering "Mama always come back" so it did stick.

 

The good news is that it is just a phase.  She did grow out of it.  I've read that separation anxiety peaks just before kids go through spurts in their motor development.  This makes sense, because it would make the kid stick close to CaveMama, instead of running off to be eaten by sabertooth tigers, in the period before their common sense catches up with their running off ability.


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Old 12-04-2010, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies so far, and I'd love to hear more. Yeah, I sort of suspected it was going to have to be something we just waited out. I think doing small doses of away time is probably a good start, but it just kills me knowing he'd be sad and crying the whole time, even if it's just a short time.

 

I also appreciate that it's better to say "bye" if you're leaving, but I leave for work between 4:30-5:00 am, and DS often sleeps until 8, so I definitely don't want to wake him up just to say goodbye. Plus, I really do think that he's ok with me being gone in the morning, and I think the consistency and predictability of him knowing if I'm there I stay for the day and if I'm not there I'm gone for the day is important.

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Old 12-04-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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I checked this book out of the library and have been reading it to my DD. The book is really great and emphasizes ways to cope with powerful feelings of separation anxiety. For example, one page of the book says, "I can take a deep breath and know that I'll be okay." DD doesn't completely understand it (she's only 19 months), but she is starting to get it a little more. We've been working on taking deep breaths and talking about how it makes us feel better.


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Old 12-04-2010, 10:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odoole View Post

Thanks for the replies so far, and I'd love to hear more. Yeah, I sort of suspected it was going to have to be something we just waited out. I think doing small doses of away time is probably a good start, but it just kills me knowing he'd be sad and crying the whole time, even if it's just a short time.

 

I also appreciate that it's better to say "bye" if you're leaving, but I leave for work between 4:30-5:00 am, and DS often sleeps until 8, so I definitely don't want to wake him up just to say goodbye. Plus, I really do think that he's ok with me being gone in the morning, and I think the consistency and predictability of him knowing if I'm there I stay for the day and if I'm not there I'm gone for the day is important.



Oh totally, I didn't mean to say disservice in the sense that you should stop it or you are harming your kid, that is kind of a strong term and I didn't mean to make it seem like you should change!  Sorry!  I think a better way to put it is that it isn't helping him know that you come back... because you are just gone, yk?  And it would be good to see you go and return at a predictable time... but all in good time! 

 

My second son had horrible separation anxiety, until he was in 1st grade.  So it is a developing process. I like that book, bodhitree!  I think that is awesome, developing language and coping strategies. Very cool! 


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