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Being a homeschool mom, I’m almost constantly at my children's side, so it's quite difficult for my youngest children to separate from me for even for a short period of time.
Whenever I would get ready to go out, they would get so emotional, I would have to cancel appointments or take them with me. But I knew that wasn’t benefiting my children or myself. Here are some techniques that I use to help my children deal with separating from me for a few hours when needed.
• Make it a short goodbye. When your child is standing by the door in tears while you’re putting on your coat, your tendency is to give him a long hug and a lot of kisses to help him get through your short good-bye. But this can only make the situation worse and your child will only want to prolong your exit. The best thing to do is keep it simple. Give them a short hug, tell them you will back soon and that you love them.
• Explain your time of return so your child understands. For toddlers, the concept of time can be difficult to understand, so explain to them in a way they can understand. Instead of saying you’ll be back by 6:00 pm, tell them that you will be back by dinner time. If you let them watch a DVD while you are gone, tell them you will be back when their show is over.
• Keep them busy. Give them an art or craft project to work on or a DVD to watch while you are gone. Tell them that they will enjoy the activity and that you can’t wait to see what they have made or hear what the show was about when you return.
• Make goodbye fun. When you are about to leave, give your child a task to do like opening the door for you or getting your shoes. Children love helping out and giving them some responsibility makes them feel important. I place my coat and shoes where my child can easily gather them and hand them to me.
• Have a special goodbye. It can be a special hug or kiss or even a special handshake. Before I leave the house, I hug and kiss my children and tell them I will be back shortly. This makes them feel secure and I know that they feel confident that I will return.
• Make your return special. When you arrive home, don’t check your answering machine or e-mail. That can always wait. Ask your child what he did while you were gone, give him some extra hugs and tell him that you missed him.
• Don’t sneak out of your house. Some moms feel that if they just sneak out of their house without telling their child, that their child wouldn’t even notice that they were gone if they were immersed in an activity. But this doesn't help at all and your child will always notice that you are gone. This can cause a child to mistrust a parent. It can even cause fear and insecurity in your child. Always let your child know when you are leaving and never leave without saying goodbye.
How do you help your children deal with separation anxiety?
Hello, I’m Kelly and a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.
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