Monday, 26 January 2015

Dealing with Seperation Anxiety

So I got off to a bit of a rough start this morning it seems Jesse has decided to kick it into high gear with separation anxiety, Gabriel went through the same thing at around this age, but it sure isn’t nice when you get to the crèche and your normally very happy toddler who usually loves school and his teacher to bits suddenly clings to you for dear life and cries when you need to leave, I know from previous personal experience that all is well as soon as you leave the premises and they go back to their happy selves but it still isn’t nice and your mommy heart aches as you have to pry them away from you and walk out the door.
It’s crazy how this seems to happen literally overnight Jesse can literally go into full on sobs where his whole body jerks and he sounds so heart sore its terribly dramatic and for any passer-by must look like we are abandoning this child forever and a day.

So I decided to do a bit of research on what separation anxiety is where it stems from at the different ages and what to do to help ease your little ones anxiety hopefully it will be of some help to anyone else who is struggling:
The following information was taken from:

Baby Centre is actually a really nice site in general it takes you from conception to birth and beyond and always has really informative articles and questions from which you can reference answers from other moms as well as professionals.

Why separation anxiety happens
At around 6 months, your baby begins to realize that you and he are separate, which means that you could leave him. He's also capable of "representational thinking" now, which means that he can picture objects (like you) in his mind after they're no longer visible. In other words, out of sight no longer means out of mind. (This is one reason why he suddenly gets such a kick out of "peekaboo.") As your child grows into toddlerhood, he's developing a strong drive for independence, but he still needs your undying support. All this can lead to a fear that you've abandoned him whenever you're not there.

It's unclear why some kids pass through this phase with barely a whimper while other children become consumed by it. Whatever the reason or intensity, you'll be happy to know that your toddler will outgrow this phase. When? Well, that's a tricky one. Separation anxiety tends to wax and wane throughout the toddler years. But most experts agree that the period of extreme neediness usually passes between 18 months and 2 1/2 years. By age 3 he should be fully out of it. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks for making departures go a little smoother.

What to do

Wave bye-bye when you leave.
It's a simple tactic but one that many parents ignore. Instead, fearing the wrath of their toddler, they try to sneak out of the house while he's otherwise engaged. Big mistake. This approach may save you the pain of watching your child cry, but it can actually make his separation anxiety more severe. If your child thinks you might disappear at any given moment without notice, he's not going to let you out of his sight. This also goes for night-time departures. Some parents try to avoid the whole ordeal by putting their child down for the night before the babysitter arrives. That's all well and good — if he doesn't wake up. But suppose he does. You don't want him surprised — and possibly terrified — to wake up and find you gone.

Help your child look ahead.
Although your child's ability to communicate is still hindered by his limited vocabulary, he understands much more than he can say. So prepare him for your departure by talking about the event ahead of time. Make sure your child knows where you are going and when you'll be back. You may also want to give him details, such as who will be watching him and what sort of activities he can look forward to doing. To that end, it's also important to talk about your child's sitter with great enthusiasm. Your child looks to you for reassurance, and if you say things like "I think Bella is so much fun, don't you?" he'll be inclined to agree. To gauge how much of your conversation he's absorbing, follow up with simple questions like "Where are Mommy and Daddy going?" or "Who's going to watch Kenny while Mommy and Daddy go to dinner?"

Look on the sunny side.
Separation anxiety isn't merely a toddler thing — you may not be thrilled by the prospect of leaving either. But if you let your apprehension show, your child's almost certain to pick up on it. Besides, a dramatic farewell will just validate your child's feelings of insecurity. So try to stay calm and positive — even if he's hysterical. Talk to him evenly and reassure him that you'll be back soon. To keep the situation light, try adopting a silly parting phrase such as "See you later, alligator" or your own made-up alternative. Getting your child in the habit of responding with "After a while, crocodile" will also help serve as a distraction.

Try a transitional object.
Having a reminder of Mom or Dad may help your toddler cope in your absence, so when you go out, leave him with a personal memento. It can be just about anything — a photograph, an old sweater of yours, or a special pin for him to wear. It's possible that the token might have the opposite effect, though, by serving as a constant reminder. So check with the babysitter to see if your child seemed agitated by it. A security object — a blanket, a stuffed animal, or even his very own thumb — can also be a source of solace.

Play "name that feeling."
A true understanding of emotions is still years away for your toddler, but he can learn to put simple labels on his feelings. When your child starts to panic, tell him: "I know that you're sad that Mommy's leaving. What you're feeling is called 'missing.' When Mommy leaves she has those 'missing' feelings too." "Sometimes all a child needs is a way to express his fears," says child psychologist Donald Freidheim, director of the Schubert Center for Early Childhood Development in Cleveland, Ohio. "Teaching him a name for what he's feeling helps defuse the anxiety."

Set up gradual transitions.
If you're leaving your child for an evening out, ask the babysitter to arrive a half hour ahead of time. This gives the two of them time to get acquainted while you act as a calming presence. If you're starting with a new long-term childcare provider, you may want take a day or two off work — or see whether the sitter can come on the weekend — and do a few activities as a threesome. Whenever your child seems happily engaged with his babysitter, recede into the background. If your child brings you a book to read, for example, redirect him with "Why don't you see if Mary wants to read that book with you?" Or, if he wants to be picked up, suggest that he let the new caregiver do the honours. Some kids are so clingy, though, that they won't give a new sitter a chance, as long as Mom (or Dad, whoever is the primary caretaker) is an option. So if possible let the secondary caretaker be the go-between. "It happens at day-care facilities all the time," says Freidheim. "When Dad drops his toddler off, the child jumps right into the action, but when Mom tries to leave, the same kid dissolves into tears." For these kids, the transition may go more smoothly if the less-available parent acts as the middleman.

Head out at the same time.
Good-byes are always easier when it's your child who does the exiting. Instead of you leaving him behind, have the babysitter take him for a quick trip to the park or out for a stroll as you head out the door. Make sure your child understands that you're going out as well. Otherwise he'll be doubly upset when he returns to find the house empty.

Involve him in an activity.
Allow your toddler and his caregiver to get engrossed in an activity before you leave. When the time comes for you to go, give your child a quick kiss good-bye and make a beeline for the door. He may still cry, but the activity can serve as a distraction soon after your departure.

Let him learn to cope.
No parent wants her child to feel any unnecessary sadness, but coping with separation is one of the many stresses your child will have to learn to manage in life. Sometimes doing nothing — especially if you've already tried everything — is the best advice. "Learning to cope is an important developmental task," says Freidheim. "Your child has to learn that there are times when he's going to be unhappy." If your child's clinging is so severe that you can't even cross the room without a protest, for example, you may be making the situation worse by constantly caving to his demands. If you know that he's safe, it's okay to let him cry a bit. In a matter-of-fact voice, reassure him that's everything's okay, then go ahead and do whatever it is you need to do — without feeling guilty.

The second source of information:

I chose to include this article as even though the tips are pretty much on par I like the fact that this mommy is writing from personal experience and taking note of worked for her as well as other moms, I also like that she went through all the stages and ages of separation anxiety and what to do with each stage.

Until they were 11 months old, my twin boys were so nonchalant whenever I'd leave the room that they seemed like a couple of teenagers. As I'd head off to work, the boys would glance my way, then resume chewing on their barnyard animals or playing with their babysitter. They seemed to be thinking, "Eh, catch you later, Mom—whatever." I figured: Phew! We dodged all the separation anxiety drama that had stressed out so many of my friends. (Hey, maybe we'd get lucky and bypass the terrible twos, too!)
But then one morning, reality struck big-time. As I opened the door to leave, Ian, the small, scrappy one, began rolling around the floor, wailing as if stricken by food poisoning. Toby, his chubby, gentle brother, clung to my leg, bawling so hard he could barely breathe. I was heartbroken, and totally flummoxed. I had no clue why it was happening or what approach would be easiest on the boys.
"Separation anxiety can happen almost overnight, which makes it shocking to parents," says Sara Abbot, associate director of the Family Resource Counselling Centre in Los Angeles. What's more, it's often not just a one-time, babyhood phase for many kids. The tears and fears related to being apart from Mom or Dad can resurface in the toddler and preschool years, posing new challenges for parents and warranting different
solutions. As disheartening as that may sound, it can be very helpful to remember that separation anxiety is completely normal, even healthy. "From the earliest years of life, we should want children to encounter ordinary adversity because it's practice for building resilience," says Aaron Cooper, Ph.D., co-author of I Just Want My Kids to Be Happy! Why You Shouldn't Say It.... Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to minimize your child's angst, as well as your own, along the way.

The first strike: babyhood
Though the timing can vary from child to child, separation anxiety typically first hits around 8 months, when babies suddenly grasp that their parents exist apart from them, says Abbot. "Literally, it's like, boom! They understand you can leave." They don't, however, understand that you're coming back. This anxiety may last several weeks, or even a few months, until your child realizes that you're not, in fact, abandoning him for life—you're just going to the bathroom. 

How to get through it:

Start early
By 6 months, introduce your baby to other regular caregivers, such as relatives or a babysitter. "Your child needs practice being away from you, hopefully well before preschool," says Alex Barzvi, Ph.D., clinical director of the New York University Child Study Centre’s Institute for Anxiety and Mood Disorders. "You want someone else to hold and talk to your kid a little differently." These experiences may minimize her anxiety later on when you're not around.

Keep your goodbye short
A quick "Bye, James, see you this afternoon!" is ideal. "Prolonging the departure gives your child the idea that there's something to be afraid of," Barzvi says. But here's the really tough part: Try not to let the sobbing lure you back. Reappearing after you've left only gives your child incentive to cry harder and longer next time. 

Match your body language to your words
"Your child can sense your confidence as you walk out the door," Cooper says. Flash a smile, give a cheerful wave. You'll be faking it, of course, but she won't know that yet. She'll just know that you feel good about who she's with—and she can, too.

Avoid sneaking off
Parents often dash out the door when the child isn't looking, hoping—understandably!—that this will preempt a meltdown. "But that's tricking your child, and it can break your child's trust in you," Barzvi says. Instead, first ask your caregiver to redirect your child's attention right after you leave with a favorite toy, a game of peekaboo or some new music (whatever), then say your quick goodbye. 

The peak: toddlerdom
For some kids, separation anxiety vanishes before toddlerhood; for others, that's when it starts, peaking sometime between 12 and 24 months and bringing a more potent dose of distress. "This is when children develop a strong sense of attachment to the parent," says Barzvi. "You'll see tantrums or screaming or hysterical crying." (Worried your child's reaction is extreme? Visit Separation Anxiety in the Extreme for more info.) What's also at play now is their desire to have some control over their lives, says Abbot. They know by now that you're coming back, but they would prefer that you stick around. And because they also know that wailing will usually get a
reaction, they give it their best shot.

How to get through it:

Develop a goodbye ritual
For example, whenever you have to leave your toddler at daycare, give her two kisses and a high five. "The ritual creates order around the departure for both parent and child," says Abbot. And that provides security.

Give your child a small job
When Ilene Siringo's 23-month-old son, Luca, hit a particularly clingy phase, she started asking him to "shut the door for Mommy" when she left for work. This little responsibility made the transition a lot easier. "He likes to help, and he gets to have control of the door," says Siringo, an optometrist in New York City. This strategy can also work with kids who get anxious when you have to leave the room. For instance, if you need to get the laundry, give your child a sweater to "fold" until you get back.

Provide an ETA
"A child this age doesn't understand 'three hours,' but you can say, 'I'll be back after snack time,' " Abbot advises. And do your best to return when promised. It's tempting to think he won't know the difference if you're significantly late, but at some point he will—and you can't predict when. If you're heading out for a late night, tell him you'll see him in the morning.

Remind your toddler that you always return
When Anna Zirker's twin boys were 2, she put her own twist on this trick: "When they'd say, 'Mommy, don't go,' I'd ask, 'What does Mommy do when she leaves?' and they'd say, 'Mommy comes back,' " says Zirker, of Bend, OR. Still works every time.

The relapse: preschool age
For parents, this may be the most exhausting form of separation anxiety. Just when you think your child's developed a little independence, the tantrums and tears come roaring back, usually thanks to a new stress such as a new sibling, going to school, an illness in the family, or moving to a different house. Fortunately, the anxiety relapse usually lasts only a few weeks, according to experts. "With a sibling, it's about attention," says Abbot. "They worry that they come second now, that their parents are going to forget about them." In the case of a new school, the child knows that Mommy will come back but may nonetheless feel unsafe or uncertain without her. "Suddenly the child is in an unfamiliar place and isn't sure whom to trust. Plus, he has to share the attention of the teacher with all these other kids," says Abbot. No wonder some of them get overwhelmed!

How to get through it:

Let your child know it's okay to feel nervous
Catch yourself if you reflexively say, "Be a big boy." Instead, give your child a hug and say something like "I know that you're nervous. Let's think of another time you were scared but it was okay. Remember the first time in the pool?" You'll help show him that his feelings are normal—and that he'll be able to handle them. "We're often so proud of an autonomous child that we don't fully appreciate that the stepping-stone toward that autonomy involves a decent amount of dependence," says K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Pace University.

Plan some extra one-on-one time
After Jennifer Lehr brought home her new baby, her 2½-year-old daughter, Jules, threw a fit whenever Lehr had to tend to little Hudson. So Lehr decided to make a point of giving Jules extra attention, especially when she'd fix her meals. "I'd slow down and let her be involved," says Lehr, who lives in Los Feliz, CA. "We'd make a smoothie, and Jules would drop in the fruit and pour in the milk and push the button." Experts say the additional one-on-one time makes the child feel confident in the parent's love and less threatened.

Develop a predictable bedtime routine
This is a good idea in general, but it can be especially helpful when your child is going through a tough time. It helps show him that there is order in his world. You can even make a poster board listing the exact times of night-time tasks. For example: 6:00, dinner; 6:20, bath; 6:40, pyjamas; 6:45, brush teeth; 6:50, story time; 7:00, bedtime.

Do your best not to cave in
A pre-schooler who is experiencing separation anxiety may also regress in other ways, such as asking for her pacifier back or insisting on sleeping with you. When you're exhausted or fed up, it's only natural to take the path of least resistance and ease up on the rules you've established. "But more than anything, a kid needs structure and routine," Barzvi says. "If you give her Binky back, it's going to make
it a lot harder to take it away again. Instead of altering the routine, give your child extra hugs and kisses. Plus, by maintaining the sameness, you're sending the message that there's nothing wrong." Of course, we all give in sometimes. So if you find yourself being more flexible than you planned, cut yourself slack and try again. 

This last site deals specifically with the toddler stage with is the stage I am in and I think the most difficult stage maybe it’s just like that for me personally my babies settled quite well after I left them with someone else but then again we were never prone to leaving them with unfamiliar faces or in unfamiliar places and it was usually just for school, personally I feel the toddler stage is very difficult because they are a bit older they try to communicate their feelings but are not quite at the stage where they can full do so yet so they communicate very verbally by crying or screaming the also cling to you and can be very dramatic.

Helping Your Toddler with Separation Anxiety
Dreading leaving your toddler with the babysitter or at day-care and want to prepare him?  Here's your 12-Step Program.
Virtually every parent who has left a toddler with a caregiver has experienced the crumpled face, the arms Velcro-locked around your knees, the wail that rips through your heart. 
It's the normal response of a securely attached toddler who protests what she perceives as a life-threatening separation from her mother. Your toddler will learn, over time that you do return when you leave, but she is not yet capable of understanding this fully.
Toddlers are designed to spend their time with humans to whom they're attached: parents, older siblings and cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. It's hard for them to have their needs adequately met by a caregiver who is trying to take care of other children. Research shows that toddlers who are in childcare all day end up with high levels of stress hormones by the afternoon, compared to toddlers who spend the afternoons at home. So a full day in childcare can be hard on some little ones. 
Unfortunately, many of us have no choice except to have our toddlers spend time in childcare. The best arrangement, if you can swing it, is for your toddler to spend at least half of her time with a parent or other dedicated “permanent” person, who can tend mostly to her needs, so she doesn't spend fulltime in childcare. (By definition, caregivers are not a permanent part of your child's life, and the turnover of day-care workers is constant.) It’s true that it’s good for your toddler to interact with other kids, but she can do that in a playgroup situation, with you there. If your toddler will be in day-care, see if you can arrange it in the morning rather than all day, with you or a sitter picking him up so he has the afternoon at home. 
What if your child is starting childcare?  Choose one where you see the caregivers interacting warmly with the children; and where the children are clearly happy to be dropped off in the morning.  Walk away from academic curriculums; instead look for a place that emphasizes emotional and social development.  
Once you’re confident about the caregiver or day-care centre, focus on helping your toddler get through this difficult stage and have a good group experience. Here’s a twelve step program to smooth the process.

1. Facilitate your toddler’s bonding with the caregiver. Toddlers don't "get used to" doing without you.  They begin to feel safe with someone else. The only way to help your toddler over her upset when you leave is for her to develop a great relationship with her caregiver.
She will still protest your leaving, but the caregiver should be able to comfort her. Her protest should be brief. If she keeps crying for fifteen minutes, it means she isn’t willing to accept comfort from this new person.
How do you facilitate a great relationship? First, by letting her have good experiences with her caregiver in your presence. Second, by relating warmly to the caregiver yourself, in your toddler’s presence. Third, by putting up a photo of the caregiver holding your toddler on your refrigerator, and speaking warmly to it often. (“Helen, you won’t believe it when my daughter shows you that she knows how to wash her hands all by herself!”) Fourth, by speaking with enthusiasm to your child about the caregiver.

2. Help him get comfortable in this new situation. Invest in making this experience work for your toddler by spending a few mornings, or parts of mornings, at the caregiver’s. Facilitate your toddler’s bonding with the other kids, and especially with the caregiver. The minute he gets engaged in something, try to take a back seat, nearby but not engaged.

3. Start with short separations. After he feels comfortable with this new situation, and has developed more of a relationship with the caregiver, practice leaving him for a short time — start by saying goodbye, leaving, and then returning as soon as he stops crying.
If you start with short absences, your toddler will learn more quickly that you always return, and can gradually get used to the separations as you gradually extend your absences.   But try not to return while he is still crying, or he’ll think crying can bring you back, and it will be hard for him to give up that strategy!

4. Develop a parting routine. For instance, always read her a quick story, then hug her and tell her you love her and when you’ll be back, then put her in her caregiver’s arms, then say your standard parting phrase (“I love you, you love me, have a great day and I’ll pick you up at three!”). Stick to your routine every day and resist the urge to either extend it or cut it short. It will help your toddler to know exactly what to expect.

5. Leave her with a comfort object. If you can give her something of yours, such as a scarf, she may be able to comfort herself with it, although don’t be surprised if she throws it on the floor as you leave. Many people suggest giving your child a lovey, and of course these are helpful, but no securely attached toddler will find it more than small comfort in the absence of a parent.

6. Help your toddler to understand what’s happening. His language may be limited, but he still understands a great deal.  It will help him to cope if you reassure him by explaining what will happen. Don’t stop with the separation, keep going to describe the fun he will have:
“First I will read you a story. Then we will find Helen and she will hold you. I will say ‘See you later Alligator!’ Then I will leave to go to work, and I will wave goodbye and you and Helen and your lovey will wave from the window. Then you and Helen will dance to the music you like. You might be sad, but the music and dancing will make you feel better. Then all the kids will have snack. You will play outside, and you will play with the playdoh, and then you will have lunch, and then I will be back right after lunch to pick you up. Mommy always comes back.”

7. Don’t give in to the temptation to sneak out. It will make her separation anxiety worse in the long run. When she bursts into tears, say calmly “I know you don’t want me to leave, but I will be back right after lunch. I will wave goodbye from outside. Helen will take you to the window to wave.”  Then leave. Resist the urge to run back and grab your crying child. It may take her weeks to start waving to you, but you should always wave to her. Hide your own distress and signal that things are fine by being matter of fact.

8. Discuss in advance with the caregiver what she can do to comfort and distract your toddler. It's important that your toddler feel comforted by the caregiver, so you want someone who is comfortable with a crying child, not just trying to shush her. Distraction may work temporarily, but long-term what your child needs is to express his desolation at your departure, and to have someone who understands step in to hold him and communicate that he's safe. So distraction by itself is not the best policy. 
On the other hand, caregivers have other children to care for. Most of your child's emotional processing will happen with you, at night or on weekends. Your caregiver does have to eventually help your child shift gears from his unhappiness to the fact that there are some wonderful, fun things to do right there right now, even with mommy gone. So also plan distractions that will help your child to calm down and shift gears.  
Some toddlers are calmed by running water, or by always visiting the window to watch the birds at the feeder, or by dancing in the caregiver’s arms to particular music. One boy I knew was always distracted by a particular video of earth moving equipment; his mom could say goodbye, settle him in front of the video with his lovey, and leave. When the video ended half an hour later, he joined the other kids without a fuss. Maybe there is a specific toy that your daughter loves (even one that you bring from home but she only plays with at her caregiver’s.)
You want to make sure that the caregiver will keep trying until she finds something that helps your toddler, and that she will hold your toddler until he is calm and whenever he needs to be held while you are gone. And if she can get the other kids started on a fun activity that your toddler can’t wait to join (“Look at the playdoh!”), it might really shorten the hysterics.

9. Don’t be late to pick your toddler up. If she finishes lunch and you aren’t there yet as promised, it will make things harder in the future, and you will be setting up a long-term feeling that you don’t always follow through on your promises, which is no basis for a bond with your child.

10. Help your toddler learn that people return; that what disappears isn't gone forever but can reappear. Play games like Peek a Boo, or hiding and finding a loved object (“Is your lovey under the bed? No, it isn’t under the bed. Is your lovey behind the shower curtain? YES, there’s your lovey!”), or Hide and Go Seek (and of course hide in a place where he can easily find you!)
Read books about separation and return, like  Kathi Appelt’s Oh My Baby Little One (which is a fabulous book about leaving your baby at day-care, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (a wonderful book about a raccoon who wants to stay home with mom instead of going to school), Karma Wilson's Mama Always Comes Home,  and P.D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother?

11. Create a “Lots of People Love Me” book. Put together a small child-sized photo album with people your toddler loves holding her: you, her other parent, her grandparents, her caregiver, aunts and uncles. Add cousins and friends. Read the book often. Let her get used to her caregiver reading it to her in your presence. Many children are comforted by reading such a book when they miss their parents.

12. Give your toddler lots of love and attention when you are with him.  You may need a hot bath and a cup of tea at the end of the day, but your toddler has a pent up need for you.  Of course he’s demanding. He’s stressed, and he needs your calm, loving presence to unwind and relax.  Make the simplest dinner you can, keep things calm, avoid power struggles, and look for opportunities to connect. Be sure he gets a lot of opportunities to laugh, to get those tensions out. And leave extra time for cuddling at bedtime.
Your toddler will eventually outgrow his separation anxiety.  I'm hoping this twelve step program will make the process faster and easier for your toddler – and for you!

Hope you all found this helpful!

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