Dealing with Separation Anxiety

We are into week three of Peanut attending her new daycare and I really can’t say that things are getting easier.  I feel like we have some bad days and some not so bad days and I can’t help but wonder how long this transition period will last.  It breaks my heart to see my baby so sad, especially when she’s crying and saying, “Don’t leave me Mommy!”  “Mommy I need you!”  – – oh Lord help me!!

After ten days of ‘winging it’ and trying to accommodate the little bugger, I’ve decided to search for some advice.  And where else does the worried and anxiety/guilt ridden mom go for advice?  (well, first i talked to my mom, but her advice was to take her back to Mary’s for another year and then to contemplate quitting her job to move in as a live-in nanny – – thanks anyway Mom)  No, I turned to Pinterest.

Right away I found some really great posts about separation anxiety with advice from parents, day care providers and preschool teachers.  You can check out my Pinterest board here.

Here are some of the ideas and tips that really hit home for me:

  • DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SAD – yeah, gonna have to work on that one.  Especially after my full out melt down the other day when both Peanut and I were bawling on the floor and I told her she breaks my heart when she cries.  Now, she is constantly asking me, “Did I break your heart Mommy?”  Oh geeze…
  • CREATE A ROUTINE – sticking to a routine that’s predictable should be a no brainier – Peanut has always thrived on routine.  We are still a bit shaky on that, but I’m confident we will get there. I’m also going to create a little ritual for saying goodbye, like giving her a kiss on each cheek and an Eskimo kiss.   
  • REMIND YOUR TODDLER YOU ALWAYS RETURN – this has been number one for me; I’m always reminding Peanut that I always come back.  I really like how this mom handles this one: 
    • 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.
  • DON’T LINGER – this one will be hard. For some reason I was thinking that maybe it would be better to spend some extra time with her at drop-off, but several sources have said that there should be a clear separation of home and school (daycare).  Sooooo, when I sat with her and read her a book this morning… that wasn’t good??  
  • GIVE HER A JOB TO DO – I haven’t tried this one, but I think it could work pretty well because Peanut loves to be the helper.  I might have to team up with her teacher to find out what kinds of things she could help with when she gets to school.  Having something to do right away can help with the transition.
  • BE ON TIME – I will NEVER be late picking Peanut up.  I’ve reminded her countless times that I come back to get her after snack and I intend to keep that promise.  One afternoon, I left work about 10 minutes later and she was a hot mess when I got there.  Not gonna do that again – yikes!
Of course, I’m finding out that there are a lot of kid’s books out there that address separation anxiety and leaving mommy and daddy.  Here is a great list.  
My Mom also recommended I pick up “The Kissing Hand” and read that with Peanut.  I had heard only a tiny bit about this book and Mom had never read it, but I went out and bought it right away.  We were hardly home five minutes before I had Peanut on the couch beside me ready to read “her new book”.  After reading the first page, her little eyes welled up with tears and she said, “I need my blankie.”  I didn’t even make it half way through the book before I broke down sobbing.  That was the one and only time I read her that book.  The next time she saw it in my bedroom, she threw it out in the hallway and slammed the door shut.  I guess I know how she feels about that!
Have you ever dealt with separation anxiety?  What are your tips for helping your little one adapt?

4 thoughts on “Dealing with Separation Anxiety

  1. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, Mama. It's never easy leaving your baby when they are sad. Do they say she's fine after you leave? Or does she struggle throughout the day, too?

    When my girls went off to Kindergarten I did something similar to the little pocket hearts. Instead, I just wrote with a pen on the palm of their hand a heart and wrote I love you on the inside. Then I kissed it and closed their hand so that they could keep it with them all day. If they missed me or needed a little reminder of Mommy during the day, they could sneak a kiss from their hand.

    Good luck to you!!

  2. Thanks Dawn…Yeah, they say she's fine. Of course part of me thinks they are just saying that 🙂 but she has been talking about 'school' a lot more lately and talking about her friends there. I know she's in good hands and really do trust the teachers there. I might have to try the heart in her hand – she would like that 🙂

  3. Do you guys ever watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood? We love DT in our house. Each episode has a great message and it's always put into song. The song for the separation episode is "Grown-ups come back." So we always sing that. We still have good times and bad times and Hailey's been going for about a year now. Hang in there Mama.

Comments are closed.