The shrieks! Ahhhhhh it is SO sad and evokes the largest amount of mom-gult within me. Zachary is for sure in a separation anxiety phase. Hardcore. It breaks my heart because he pretty much bawls his eyes out whenever I leave, and sometimes…it doesn’t stop. It usually stops when he goes to his Dad, but sometimes not if he is tired and definitely not if he is sick or teething. It happens when the one babysitter (I trusted enough to hire) who has been with Zachary for months, takes him, and doesn’t usually stop. If she is watching him for an hour or two while I am working, or (gasp!) running, he will cry on and off the whole time. It happens with my Mom, but will usually stop with her. It is hard. Hard on everyone involved. I feel like I can’t go anywhere (like not even downstairs to make a cup of decaf when a friend is over for a playdate- you know who you are lol) because I HATE to hear him like that. But I know it is part of his development and that I need to expose him to others and let him work though it. But it SUUUUCKS. It makes me feel like it is my fault that it is going on for so long; like that maybe I don’t leave him enough? It is something I am sure all moms struggle with, because all babies, at some point, experience separation anxiety. Granted it is worse or more prolonged for some, and luckily it signifies a strong bond that has been formed. But what do you do? Do you not leave? Not possible and not healthy for Mommy or Child. In fact, I teach a gentle separation preschool bound course at Nest and have been exploring the topic at great lengths. Here are a few suggestions I have received from my pediatrician, the “trusty” internet and other reliable sources:
1. When you leave, do NOT sneak away. This creates an atmosphere of distrust. You need to say “bye bye baby, mommy will come back. She always comes back.”
2. Leave your child with a shirt you wear or something else that smells like you and will remind him or her of you. Children have a concept of object permanence at this points so this idea can really help.
3. Along with this, give your child a lovely that comforts him/her (in Zach’s case, it is his Big Bird “B” he calls it)
4. Have the care giver keep as close to your routine as possible, including feeding the same foods, napping at the same time, etc.
5. GET OUT. Tell the care giver to take your child somewhere else. If your child is sitting in the house, he will associate the environment with you.
6. BE/STAY CALM. Both you and the caregiver HAVE to stay calm. Babies are smart creatures and can sense your tension!
Anyway, I hope these pointers help! The most important thing to remember: It is JUST a phase! So tell me: how do you deal with separation anxiety if you have had to?