Updated: May 2, 2020
Around the month of September many children experience school for the first time in their lives. I have seen many mothers come with their children and say, “this is their first time being away from me”. I myself have experienced the tears of dropping off my two children for the first time. Have you been feeling a burden in your heart too?
Separation anxiety begins around 6 months after a child has been born. Children of this age begin to develop a strong bond with its caregiver, and feel separation anxiety when they have been separated with the object of their bond. This is an extremely normal, but important instinct that must be met in a stable manner. In order to relieve anxiety, the child must be met with consistent kindness all the while being under sufficient protection.
Developmental psychology experts say that children typically begin to gradually overcome their separation anxiety by age 3. During this time, children develop the strength to emotionally function and be apart from their mom (or main caregiver) for the daily working hours of the day. We want to ensure that the child safely experiences their separation anxiety and healthily overcomes it, as it is a valuable lesson for them as well.
Why is My Child Nervous?”
Children with severe separation anxiety, depending on the child, have a variety of different reasons. But here we can see a few of the common causes of separation anxiety.
*The Child’s Temperament: Children who are naturally more sensitive and shy compared to others.
*The Parent’s Parenting Manner: Parents who were protective about every detail, and never allowed for their child to experience things on their own. Or the opposite situation in which parents separated from the child too early while trying to teach them independence.
*Trauma: Children who have experienced a traumatic event in which they were in great fear while apart from their parents.
*Message: “If you keep crying, I am going to leave you here” “Since you don’t listen, I am going to drop you off at another family’s house”, and so on. Messages that have been sent out even without the parent knowing.
*The Parent’s Separation Anxiety: Parent’s feeling nervous to leave the child, a parent who stays within close range. The nervous face expressions and gestures that directly get sent to the child can create a more severe response within the child.
“How Can I Help My Child?”
The most desirable way would be to find the root in the relationship of self and child but here are some common tips that might be helpful.
*Do Not Secretly Run Away: Even if the process is hard, say a short and correct “positive Good bye” and leave
*Make a Separation and Reuniting Pattern: They’re still at an age where a simple sign is more understandable and clear than a long and complicated conversation. So make a “separation and reuniting pattern” For example, when you leave you can point to a clock and say “I will be back at 2 o’clock.” And when you reunite, “See? I told you mommy would be back by 2 o’clock. Mommy came back like she promised.” This will help your child to recognize the pattern and trust that mommy will come back.
*Trusting Relationship: 3 relationships that your child recognizes subconsciously “Me and my child”, “My child and teacher” and “Me and teacher” these three relationships need to be recognized as positive and trusting. In order to do so, showing your child a close and kind relationship with their teacher could be an important step.
*Avoid Too Much Attention and No Attention: So that children can think on their own, take a step back and watch for when they need help and help them to know you’re right behind them if they need. This helps them to trust that even if I don’t physically see the person I depend on, they will be there if I need.
Seeing the children’s seemingly never ending tears stop and organize their feelings, start following the daily schedule and adjust, I couldn’t help but to feel sympathy for their hearts but also feel proud and my eyes were filled with tears.
When we finally give up and obey after stubbornly whining before God, would He also view us as precious and be proud?
As I was studying more about separation anxiety, I thought to myself, “Isn’t this the way that God will treat us?” Never leaving us to be by ourselves… Always keeping His promises... Faithful in His relationship with me… Standing behind me in my life… I hope that our parents and teachers can set this example for our children whom we love.
Parents, let us fight through this! Our children can succeed.