Separation Anxiety in Toddlers at Daycare
Separation anxiety in toddlers and infants can be as distressing to the parents as it is to the child. Infant separation anxiety can occur in little ones as young as six months of age. By six months of age, infants are already quite attached to the person who has primary responsibility for their care. The peak age for separation anxiety in toddlers is about 10 months. The level of anxiety should begin to improve around age 15 months. Separation anxiety in toddlers is characterized by strong protests in the form of crying, screaming, pleading and clinging. As stressful as the separation is for both the toddler and the adult, sneaking out only makes things worse. The toddler will wonder when you are going to disappear again!
As difficult as it may seem, parents and children must go through different phases of separation. This is just one phase. Separation anxiety treatment centers on the behavior of the parent in reassuring the child. Separation anxiety in toddlers is manageable. Do not avoid separations. They are a normal part of life. Give your toddler some time to get used to the person who will care for him or her in your absence. Have the baby-sitter come over for a few play dates before you actually leave. Make sure that your toddler has comfort items like a favorite toy or blanket for reassurance. Tell your little one well in advance that you are going out. Tell them when you will return. If they cannot tell time, tie your return to an activity like when a favorite television show ends. Don’t ignore the fact that your little one is in distress. Their pain is real, but your job is to help them learn that you will return.
Adult separation anxiety disorder is not the same as that found in toddlers and is likely to require the assistance of a mental health professional.