What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child's development. It generally begins around 6-9 months of age. This is the time that you might see your child becoming more receptive to their surroundings and new and different faces. They are now, developmentally aware that if you leave the room and cry as a “response” this will cause a “reaction”. They have learnt and mastered the behaviour of “cause and effect”.
This can become a challenging time especially in new environments, such as daycare, kindergarten, music groups, swimming, the birth of a new baby. Once they sat adoringly gazing at grandma, now once placed on their knee they scream and cry as if they are a complete stranger (all perfectly normal).
When does this happen?
This generally occurs when your child reaches 6-9 months of age, but sometimes you can see this with older toddlers too. Their anxiety and behaviour is heightened in certain situations and they respond in ways that are often out of character.
Your child is unique! How your child behaviours and reacts can be very different from your niece, nephew or close friends. (That's ok!)
It can seem challenging and sometimes your idyllic, contented child has gone from smiling and happy, to crying when you are not in sight and often distressed. Every child is born with their own temperament. Really understanding your child and how they can react and behave within certain situations, will all help alleviate their fear and anxiety.
At 6-9 months your child will be developing and growing rapidly. They are aware that if a parent or caregiver leaves the room, or if they are left with a babysitter their environment has changed. They don't understand “why”, but have the maturity to understand it is different and this can then make them anxious.
How can I help my child? What shall I do if this happens?
I have seen many clients and also with my own children, how different each child reacts to certain situations. They often surprise you, and for parents or caregivers, it can seem overwhelming and sometimes understanding what to do next will help in managing the situation.
Sleepingbaby tips for managing separation anxiety..
It can be challenging dropping them off at daycare, kindergarten or a babysitter and you leave them crying and upset. My eldest child used to writhe around on the floor screaming and kicking his legs around every time he went to kindy, but this was temporary and within a couple of weeks he had stopped.
Remember this is only temporary!!
Some children don't get anxious, but many do. It is a passing phase and when you are in the middle of it, it can seem difficult to manage, but with any approach consistency is the key and understanding your child’s cues and temperament will assist you and your child to new and different situations.
If you would like help, support and guidance then contact me today and together we can make achievable goals for you and your child. Contact Kate@sleepingbaby.co.nz.