Written by Moms on Call || Photo Courtesy of Paige Molina Photography
There are many developmental stages children go through that often get labeled negatively. At Moms on Call, we are adamant about positively shifting this verbiage because growth and development is normal! What we call “separation awareness” is one of these stages. It’s more commonly known as “separation anxiety”, but it’s really not anxiety at all and is completely normal!
We often speak about parenting out of truth (not fear!) with our little ones and setting them up for future success. As we gear up towards a not so normal school year (and an uncertain one at that), going back to work, and the discussion of entrusting our little ones with others as we navigate this new normal, our little ones may be having lots of feelings after spending LOADS of time with us. So, let’s discuss how we can make this a positive transition for both you and baby.
Let’s start with the facts!
When can you expect to see separation awareness?
We typically see it start around 8-24 months of age, but it can happen as early as 5-7 months.
What causes this development?
Object Permanence. Now that your child can comprehend that objects continue to exist although they can no longer be seen or heard, they are starting to realize that you exist apart from them.
The positive to this transition?
Your child is well attached to you and loves you lots! (YAY)
Your child is ready for one of life’s most necessary lessons; adjusting to change.
Truth over fear
For the nursery, daycare or babysitting situation:
- Your fear will say they feel abandoned and will never be able to be left in the care of anyone but you.
- Your truth says your child cannot feel abandoned because they are not abandoned. They can go to nursery, daycare or babysitters and they will figure out how this works.
Sleeping in a new environment:
- Your fear will say they are scared, anxious and cannot sleep in this new place.
- Your truth says change in location of sleep is going to be a new experience. There may be a bit of a transition initially, but they are capable of learning to sleep in a new environment and will do great with time and consistency!
Confidence is contagious
- Believe this and say it loud, and often!
- Let truth penetrate your heart first, and then set your child up for future success as you parent them out of truth.
What can you do to help?
- Playing this age-old game teaches your child that you are always coming back after disappearing.
- Start by covering just your face with your hands, then slowly transition to hiding behind a corner, popping your head around with a big smile and laugh. Those baby giggles will get ya, make it fun and keep it happy!
Sing songs and talk with your child from other rooms in your home.
- When they can hear you without seeing you, it creates an auditory presence. This is a great transition for them to begin feeling comfortable even when they can’t see you.
Routine is key!
- Following a consistent routine with drop offs creates familiarity, which gives little ones overall great security.
- Following a consistent routine when you have to leave them in someone else’s care will help them learn to be confident when they are away from you.
MOC’s quick guide to “goodbye”
- Say a brief, but heartfelt goodbye. (Sneaking out tends to backfire.)
- Put your Confident Face on and do not draw out the goodbye.
- Give them a brief display of love and affection and walk away.
The tears are likely to come, but the truth is, you are going to return shortly, and they will be just fine.
Follow along with Moms on Call for many more techniques we share and teach in our books and online courses. This is just a glimpse at the support and encouragement we offer so you can thrive through parenting, not just survive.