an hour or so at a time in the beginning, making sure your baby is content and well fed before you leave. As your child gets used to the idea that you do come back, you can make it longer. NEVER JUST DISAPPEAR: Always tell your child that you are leaving, who is looking after them, when you will be back and say goodbye, even if you are just popping down the road for milk. Just vanishing will leave your child scared, and much more distressed than saying goodbye will. HAVE A GOODBYE RITUAL: Decide on a short and sweet goodbye routine and stick to it. This way your child knows what to expect, what to do and what to do next, replacing a sense of unease with predictability. ONCE YOU LEAVE, LEAVE: It will only prolong the tears and make it harder for you, the
or are not there, she will do anything to make you stay or to get back close to you. And she does this by crying out and crawling after you.
“No parent likes to hear their baby cry,” says Sarah, “and many don’t understand separation anxiety, so are quite disturbed when their infant does cry as they leave a room. But all children go through it – some go through it quickly, some visibly and some go through very little.” Despite all the tears, guilt and gnashing of teeth, separation anxiety is actually a really good thing – it is a sign that your child has a positive and healthy attachment to you and is learning that she will, and how to, survive hardship or distress. Psychologist Jill Back says, “Life is hard, you need to learn the skills, such as resilience, to cope early.” And separating is one of the ways in which children can safely learn these skills.
According to teacher, counsellor, and resilience specialist Maggie Dent, resilience is “one’s ability to successfully manage life and successfully adapt to change and stressful events in healthy and constructive ways”. It is how a parent or caregiver handles these goodbyes, separation, and reuniting that will set the foundation for how a child understands relationships, and starts to develop self-esteem, independence, and resilience.