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Separation Anxiety

It’s tough to handle. One day, you have a perfectly happy, social baby, who knows no strangers. The next day, she won’t tolerate anyone but you. Sometimes, not even her father. It’s separation anxiety, and it is perfectly normal. And, it’s temporary, so no need to fret.

Separation anxiety usually comes in two forms – daytime – meaning your child doesn’t like strangers and only wants you, and nighttime, when your child has restless sleep because of being separated from you.

Nighttime separation can be easier to alleviate, since there is not a fear of a stranger, just the fear of being away from you. If your child who used to sleep through the night starts waking up regularly at around one year of age, it’s probably separation anxiety. Try spending a little extra time with him just before bedtime, rocking, singing or cuddling. Give him your undivided attention for half an hour and you may find that he sleeps better during the night. This is particularly important on days when he has been away from you most of the day.

Separation anxiety during the day is a combination of not wanted to be separated and a fear of strangers, even when the strangers aren’t really strangers at all. In particular, your baby probably raises quite a fuss when you decide to leave him with a sitter. One thing you need to realize is that this is partly a manipulation tactic, and partly just because he is so attached to you that he never wants you to leave. More than likely the crying stops the minute you are out of sight, because your little one realizes that there is no further point in crying, because his audience is gone.

There are a few things you can do to make this parting easier. The first is to always have the sitter come a little while before you have to leave. Not only does this give you a little time to get ready, but it allows the baby to get comfortable with his caretaker. The second and most important thing is to always say goodbye to your child. Trying to sneak out to avoid the fuss will only cause more harm in the long run. Your baby might come to think that you could leave at any moment with no warning. Thirdly, don’t make a long ordeal of leaving. Tell your baby goodbye, kiss him and remind him that you’ll be home soon and he’ll have fun with the sitter for a little while. Then leave. Don’t keep coming back in to calm him. Just leave. The longer you let it go on, the more hysterical he’ll become.

Separation anxiety generally lasts for a few months, and then fades away. It is a normal stage of development, and though it can be heart wrenching for you, it is a sign of healthy emotional development, because it is a sign of bonding. So, take a deep breath, and go on a date with your husband. It’s good for everyone involved!

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