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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just at my wits end here and hoping that some of you can offer encouragement/advice/support. DD is 10 months old this week. I woh and dh is a sahd. DD went through a bit of separation anxiety a couple of months ago, where she would fall apart if either of us left the room for a second, even for her to nap. It seemed to go away, but is back in full force ... sort of.

Now, she has a meltdown if I walk more than a foot away from her. I mean, full on, screaming 'til she can't breathe, hysterical crying meltdown. It's horrible.
I feel awful because I'm the family breadwinner and have to go to work. DH feels awful because nothing he does consoles her ... it's mama or nothing. And he's not AP, as much as I've tried to influence him. If he can't calm her down in a minute or two, he'll put her in her activity center and leave her to cry.


I don't know what to do. I tried every means of distraction this morning that I know of. The only thing that worked was putting her in the booster chair with a bunch of Cheerios.
: DH is in the room with her, but she hasn't yet noticed that I stepped out. I have to walk past her to get out the door for work and I know that will set her off again. I just hate this. Any advice? Suggestions? Shoulder to cry on?
 

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As much as it sucks (the setting her off again, I know BTDT and it HURTS like hell to walk away), DO NOT EVER sneak out (even if you're just going to the bathroom for 2 minutes).

Part of getting over separation anxiety is learning that you WILL ALWAYS come back. And trusting that you will be where you "say" you are, when you say it. If you sneak out, she might start worrying all the time about where you are... which just makes it worse.

It takes time, though, and repetition to learn that separation is not permanent absence.

Make a point of telling her as briefly and positively (attitude and words) that you're going and when you'll be back (best if you can say something like "I'll be home before your bath" or whatever EVENT (not time) is closest to the time you get home... AND have DH help by delaying or moving up whatever event it is so you are "on time" whenever you're running a few minutes "off schedule"... and call to warn of real "lateness" so your DH can warn her... but if at all humanly possible, do not be late for a while).

Also, when you have time with her (a day you don't work), take the time to explain:
1) that you have to work to earn money to pay for the house/food/clothes/toys etc.
2) what you do at work/what your job is and why it's important (I forgot to do this one, and didn't see much difference until I remembered to explain this too)
3) that you miss her alot when you're at work and think about her all day
4) that you will always come back.

There, that's my advice. Now, here's my sholder to cry on. (I know it hurts like the dickens to have to walk away when your darling is crying for you... One of the worst mommy pains there is.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for replying, Ione. It means alot to hear from other moms that I'm not alone, and that we can get through this without permanent scarring!

Did you start explaining things this early? I do tell her that mommy will be back soon and that daddy will be right there to play with her and take care of her, but I don't know, at 10 months, how much she "gets." Even if it *might* help, though, I'll do it. Anything to help us all through this stage.

I reread my original post and it did sound like I was sneaking off. When she's in her booster chair at the kitchen table and I'm in the kitchen, she can't see me. She's pretty used to that. I can step away to the computer for a minute without her seeing that I've left the kitchen, and I can get back within a couple of seconds of her calling for me without her ever knowing that I've left the kitchen area. I don't do this unless dh is with her. I never, ever leave for work or the bathroom or any other place that's not "with her" without telling her I'm going to go away for [a minute, a little while, to work, etc.] but I'll be back [in just a minute, later today, etc.]. Your post did make me realize that I need to use schedule markers, not lengths of time, to communicate with her.

Again, thanks so much for responding!
 

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My oldest went through this phase too. I never snuck away but I did make my goodbyes undramatic and quick. It's a VERY normal part of development and they do outgrow it. With my DD, it lasted a few months, 3 or 4 maybe?

Is there an activity that your DD likes? Something specific that your DH could engage her in after you leave to take her mind off your absense?
 

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I can promise you she "gets" a zillion times more than you think she does. Maybe not in the nitty-gritty real-life details in all their glory, but definately in what it means to you and your attitude to it all.

DD was about her age when we switched her from in-home daycare to a daycare center and she went through serious separation anxiety when I would drop her off in the mornings. I explained nos. 1, 3 & 4 numerous times, then one day a colleague recommended explaining #2 as well. I really saw a difference (not totally gone, just a real difference) after explaining what I did at work--what "going to work" means) after I added that to the mix.

It took a couple of weeks, maybe a month, for her to settle down in the new rhythm. It was hell while it lasted. But she's fine, not scarred, really confident, and--if she gets to wear something she wants to wear these days--usually happy to go see her "friends" at daycare.

You might want to talk to DH about "long-term tactics to help her get over the separation anxiety" (phrased that way, rather than "to help her calm down/to comfort her", so he doesn't "give up" if it doesn't work within a few minutes--since you said he leaves her to cry when lost for what to do) such as whatever you two can come up with...
A few suggestions could be: going for a morning walk just the two of them, so you leave the house together and then DD "leaves you" (you stand at your car and wave goodbye),
some activity she really likes that becomes something she only gets to do with DH for a while,
DH just hugging her and repeating "mom's going to work, she'll be back after X" and then snuggling down with her (even if she cries in arms)...

Oh, and whatever you do, keep it short. Do not make your leaving into a drama. short and matter-of-fact, although you can turn around once and blow her kisses, or whatever, as long as you're not showing major "I don't want to go itis" yourself.

Oh, a little off topic but perhaps pertinent all the same. I am totally against CIO in its "push the child away/reject the child/emotional abandonment of child until they're done crying" forms. But I have learned that my DD sometimes just needs to cry until *she*'s done (rather than until I think she should be done) crying and a sholder to cry on, in loving arms. Just like for us, crying can get painful emotions out and sooth the pain. No reason to seek, at all costs, to prevent children from making that use of tears. If you see what I mean...
 

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I am sorry for you. Separation anxiety can be so hard on the whole family. My son is just a little older than your DD and he has been going through this for a while- about a month ago it was the worst. Developmentally, these babies are getting ready to be more mobile and independent around their first birthdays and so they get a big bout of separation anxiety. It’s mother nature’s way of keeping them safe and close to mom, but it really breaks the heart. For a while I couldn’t tell my son to wave bye bye to anyone because he associated that with me leaving for work. Luckily for us, DH is great at soothing him. It also helped to distract him with a treat. So we do a pretty perfunctory routine of kisses and hugs, wave goodbye and then DH gives him a banana! When this is successful I just have to try and reassure myself that it’s a good thing he is okay trading mama for a banana! :LOL
 

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My dd is 5 and has always had some sort of seperation anxiety. Some times are better than others, but it was a long process. I also never snuck out and tried to make the goodbyes as short and sweet as possible. Before we would even go inside, we'd have a little talk and that helped some. But the seperation thing came, went, came, went. She just started summer camp at the day care center and so far has been doing really well. As long as she gets a kiss and a hug, she's fine.
 

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I have never had a problem with this until this past week. DD was very sick last week and stayed home from daycare. We spent our days in bed together, napping and just hanging out. Now, she freaks out when I put her to bed, cries a bit when we leave her at daycare. I know it's normal for this to happen after an illness, but it's so hard on all of us. She only wants me, not her daddy, and refuses to sleep anywhere but on top of me (and since I'm 18+weeks pg, that's getting pretty uncomfortable). It sounds from your responses like I'll just have to ride out this storm for awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I tried Ione's 1-2-3-4's this morning and things went MUCH more smoothly! And I thought dh would make fun of me for explaining this stuff to her, but he didn't ... he actually agreed that it was a good idea!
 

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Yeah! I'm glad it helped (knew it would
.)!

you might have to explain it all often for a while
and, some days will still be better than others (or, some will be worse than others)
but little by little, it will get better
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by heathenmom
Did you start explaining things this early? I do tell her that mommy will be back soon and that daddy will be right there to play with her and take care of her, but I don't know, at 10 months, how much she "gets." Even if it *might* help, though, I'll do it. Anything to help us all through this stage.

YES!!! It really helped us to have a routine that for us included a kiss on each cheek, bumping noses and then a big hug followed by "mommy's going to work, mommy always comes back." Erin would be caught saying that to herself at times when she was missing me.

I'd approach your dh from the standpoint of what can you guys brainstorm for him to do in order to make his life easier for dealing with your child...IMO calming her down will help his stress level and increase his confidence in being able to care for your kid. Is there a specific thing they can do together after mommy leaves for work? reading a story? cuddles? go on a walk in the stroller/baby carrier?

And I'd also start (if you're not already) telling your dd when you are leaving the room, followed by "mom's back, mom always comes back."
 

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I agree with never sneaking out. I would always hug and kiss goodbye. I was lucky when I returned to work -- it was part-time, so my mom came over and I said my goodbyes when DD was 6 months old. We always tell her where we are going and that we'll be coming back. Now, she'll be 3 next month and has yet to have a meltdown. She started a ritual where she gives me things when I leave. I think it's cute. But now that she is verbal, she does tell me she misses me when I need to go to work. It breaks my heart.

To this day, I get to work at 9am so that I am there when DD wakes up and I can say goodbye. It's a pain to get in so late, but it has had major benefits. Usually, DD is watching a cartoon when I leave and DH is very responsive to her at that time.

But I remember the times that it seemed like I couldn't even go to the bathroom without her (about 18 months old). I always made sure I didn't leave her if she was upset about it, so that at 2 years old, I could say I'm going to the bathroom and she was fine. I just had the rule that if she needed to be with me, I figured out a way to do it. I really didn't get much done until she turned 2, but now I can see the positive results.

She trotted off to preschool yesterday without even a tear.

You really need to sit with DH to talk about his efforts to console your DD. He is uncomfortable with her pain, but he needs to hold her until she can calm down. My DH has been frustrated by his inability to console our DD, too, but I remind him that sometimes I can't either. I just hold her.
 
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