Seperation anxiety, what to do? — The Bump
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Seperation anxiety, what to do?

We're in total "mommy don't leave me" tantum mode.  She had 3 wonderful weeks of preschool (little/no tears) and 2 really awful days of MOPS (absolute meltdown the entire 2 hours).  But this morning, on week 4 of preschool, she totally lost it before I even left.  I made the mistake of coming in the room to take off her jacket and talk to the teacher. She was grabbing my hair/shirt and bawling.  I could hear her screaming 5 minutes after I left (went to speak to the director).  I saw her teacher bring her out to give her some 1-on-1 time.  I forced myself to RUN to my car so I wouldn't make things worse.

What the heck can I do?  It kills me to see her so upset, but I know she'll be ok.  And honestly, I'm totally embarrassed.  It's like I've done something wrong that my child is so totally upset when I leave her.  I feel like she's a burden in her class. When will this pass?

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Re: Seperation anxiety, what to do?

  • I'm sorry Jules, I know how hard that is. Caleb is in the same stage. He even does it when he sees my MIL - he clings to me, cries and won't go near her. (She was babysitting him 1x a week). I feel embarrased about it but I know its a stage that will pass...eventually!

    For Caleb, I have been trying to talk to him before we go somewhere and explain what will happen. (IE You're going to go play with Wyatt and his mommy today. I'm going to work. After you have your nap, Daddy will pick you up.) I doubt he really *get* what I'm saying, but I do think it helps a little.

    Lately, I have been trying to sneak out when I drop him at the sitter's house. I feel awful about it because I feel like he will be looking for me, but she says he doesn't really seem to mind. If he sees me leave, he throws a huge fit and won't let go of me.

    I know its just heartbreaking to see her like that, but she does calm down eventually. I'm sure her teachers don't mind and give her lots of extra snuggles to help settle her down. 

    image Caleb is 3! 101 in 1001
  • First, definitely don't feel like the separation anxiety is something you should be embarrassed about!  It's completely normal for kids her age to go through this.  Nate definitely went through the same thing, and there were plenty of kids at his daycare that had separation anxiety too.

    I agree with Becky that trying to prepare Emily might help.  Sometimes telling Nate what's going to happen can cause MORE anxiety for him though, so if that happens, I try to focus on just a couple of positive things instead.  For example, if we're having a morning where Nate doesn't want to go to daycare, I'll tell him that we're going to ride in the car and he can go play with his friends (I name them).  If he is still upset, I'll talk about seeing school buses, seeing horses, etc (both of which we see on the way to daycare). 

    You can also work on playing separation games with Emily to help her to understand that you always come back.  You can try playing peek-a-boo or hide and seek.  We also play chasing games. 

    The main thing that will help is just time though.  Like I said, Nate was the same way.  Now we rarely have any problems dropping him off at daycare. I don't think we've done anything special.  He's just older and he can handle the separation better.

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