When one thinks of separation anxiety, images of a terrified toddler clinging to their parent’s leg may come to mind. Yet separation anxiety isn’t only felt by our children – it is also an adult experience.
Leaving a child with a caretaker or sending them to school for the very first time can be an overwhelming and emotionally taxing affair. If you’re worried about how your child will get on without you, feel guilty about being separated, or if you simply miss spending time with them, have a look at our five tips for easing your child separation anxiety put together from tips that parents receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Bristol with us have found useful:
- Stay Positive
It may sound like stereotypical advice, but balancing your focus to include the positive aspects of the situation as well as the tougher aspects is very important. In the same way that a ‘negative filter’ can come across to others, positivity is also contagious. This is especially integral if your child isn’t as distraught by the idea of being apart as you are. Children are incredibly perceptive and will sense when you’re feeling nervous or upset, which will begin to impact how they react during your goodbyes. Luckily, putting on a smile and balancing the positive and tougher aspects of the situation can help to realise the situation as it truly is, rather than as it seems on an emotional level.
- Boost Your Confidence
If you’re worried about leaving your child in someone else’s care, do yourself a favour and make sure you’re leaving them with someone you know you can trust. Family members and friends are an obvious first-picks for babysitting, but what happens when it’s daycare or a school you’re worried about? Acquaint yourself with caretakers and teachers, ensure that you have proper contact information and that they do, as well. Take proactive steps to alleviate your fears and reinforce your confidence in the capability of the professionals who are now a part of your child’s life. But also remember to keep a reasonable balance as over-checking or researching is likely to prevent you from being able to build trust in others’ care of your child.
- Seek Support
Discussing your feelings with a friend or family member can do wonders to soothe your concerns. Many parents have gone through the same thing and can offer solid advice or, at the very least, a sense of solidarity. Having someone to turn to may also provide a healthy change of focus for you. Go out to lunch with some friends to discuss comforting tactics for you and your child, or find new, enriching activities to participate in with other parents. This is an ideal time to invest in yourself as a person, as well as a parent.
- Enjoy “Me” Time
No matter how you spend your personal time, try to do something that brings you joy. Processing intense feelings attributed to separation anxiety is made much easier when you feel as though your time is productive. Counting the minutes until you can be reunited with your child will only serve to bring added stress to your life, so try to focus on your new-found time as an opportunity to accomplish something you’d been waiting on a convenient moment for.
- Appreciate “Together” Time
Along with savouring your newly-available time, allow yourself to truly revel in each minute you get to spend with your child. Reunite with hugs, kisses, and quality interaction. Prompt your child to share this special new element of their life with you, and share your new experiences with them. Being separated from your child does not mean you are being replaced, or that you are being left behind – there are simply more adventures to be shared.
Taking care of yourself and establishing a positive routine will help make this transition much easier for you. Many parents experience separation anxiety, but with patience and understanding, it does get easier. If you continue to struggle with anxiety problems and would like to explore if private therapy could be helpful, why not Contact Us? We offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Bristol and other clinic locations in the UK. We also offer online CBT for a wide range of issues.
Do you have tips for parents who are worried about leaving their child in the care of someone else? Let us know in the comments below.