In this months Parenting on Purpose, we are talking about separation anxiety. We have had many clients the past few months who have a child experiencing this and are unsure of how to manage it. Separation anxiety is common in anxious children, but it can be really hard for both the parent and child. This is especially so after the last year of lockdowns and big changes to routines, schooling and life.
Here are 3 steps you might take to help your child through separation anxiety:
Try to remain calm. When distressed, your child will not be able to access the logical thinking part of their brain, so it is best to wait until they are calm before trying anything. You know your child best and what they need to feel calm again. That could be a hug, having you sit with them until the tears have stopped, or something else.
It is important for children to feel heard, safe and loved. Reassure them of this and let them know you understand their feelings. This might sound like "It is okay to feel scared sometimes. You are safe and I am right here. I love you."
Once they are calm and ready, you can begin problem solving. Make a plan to help them manage their anxiety and gain control. Maybe it's having a friend or teacher at the gate to meet them, having a special hug goodbye, or taking a chosen item to school with them for comfort.
It is important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. This may take time, but small things done consistently can really make a difference in helping your child (and you) gain a sense of control again.