“Mommy, Don’t Go!”
Toddler Separation Anxiety
Toddler separation anxiety may peak any time between 12 and 24 months. Toddlers have a strong sense of attachment to their parents and now have a desire to have some control over their lives. Toddlers know that tantrums and screaming usually get a reaction and they give it their best try. Here are some tips to make your departure go a little smoother by involving your child in an activity before leaving and also by reminding her that mommy will always be back! These tips will help your child cope during your absence.
6 Tips for Handling “Toddler” Separation Anxiety
1. Develop a “good-bye ritual” such as two kisses and a high-five. The ritual creates order around the departure for both parent and child and provides security.
2. Give your toddler a small job. (Example: “Shut the door for mommy” or “Do you want me to honk the horn two or three times as I drive away? Show me your fingers!”)
3. Provide ETA. (Example: “I will be back after snack time” or “I will be back after nap.”) Do your best to return when promised.
4. Use a “Transitional Object”. (Example: Provide a picture of Mommy and Daddy or a “blankie “, “lovie”, or stuffed animal that your child is attached to) These objects will give your child comfort and a sense of security even when his parents are away.
5. Remind your toddler that you always come back. Listening to Hap Palmer’s song entitled “My Mommy Comes Back”. This song is so reassuring to young childen. “My mommy comes back, she always comes back, she never will forget me.”
6. If you are going away on a trip and will be away from your child , whether it is overnight or for a week-end, we recommend making a “book” for your child in which you tell the story of the trip and talk about the separation. In the book you will let your toddler know who will take care of him while you are away and when you will be coming back. (more on making books in a later blog)
For support with separation issues and any other early childhood questions give us a call at the early childhood development associates on melrose.
Marilee Hartling, RN MFT and Ariko Yoshizawa, MA