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Child or Baby Separation Anxiety

Published January 03, 2008        by Nicole

Love takes many forms, and your baby may often show her love for you by resisting any separation from you.This is completely natural.Your baby is aware of total dependence on you for survival; if you are absent, fear takes over.Contrary to what many people think, you will not "break your baby of needing you" by forcing frequent or lengthy separations.The truth is the more secure you can make her feel by being present and by holding, cuddling, and reassuring, the more confident and unafraid she will be.You will notice that something frightening-perhaps the vacuum cleaner-is no longer so from the safety zone of your arms.Other unreasonable fears come and go suddenly; some common ones are fear of dogs and cats, the ghosts and monsters that come in the night, emergency sirens, thunder, and people in “unusual” garb, such as doormen and nuns in habits.These frights pass and are forgotten if you support your child through them.

If your baby seems unable to be without you for a single waking moment, realize that this is one of the many phases she will go through and do your best to go along with it.Don’t force a stint in the playpen or an exercise period in the middle of the living room floor if your infant seems terrified of being in the center of all that empty space.Don’t make an obviously reluctant baby go to someone else, even if it’s a relative whose feelings are apt to be hurt by the rejection.Leave the door to the baby’s room ajar at bedtime, and reassure her that you are near by letting your voice be heard from wherever you are in the house.Try not to show irritation at what you know to be foolish and unreasonable fears; you will only make your baby feel unloved and less secure than ever.Don’t worry about "spoiling" a clinging baby or overprotecting her by avoiding situations that you know are frightening.She has a built-in human drive to be mature and to be independent.

Many babies are reluctant to be left with babysitters.When mommy is out of sight, she is gone, and many children under the age of about two cannot yet reason well enough to know that she will be back.Some parents feel that they simply must not leave their children at this point; others insist that they must get out and that both they and their children are better for an occasional separation, if you’re in the latter group, someone your child knows will be your best choice for a sitter at first-Grandma or another relative is often ideal.You may wish to have a sitter your baby doesn’t know come for a visit or two when you will be home, so the two can get to be friends.

If you must leave a comparative stranger in charge, have the babysitter arrive early enough to get acquainted with your baby while you are still there.Never sneak off, say most parents; use a regular goodbye ritual that includes kissing goodbye and waving.Come home when you said you will, and set the time as “after your nap,” instead of “at three o’clock,” for a small child who doesn’t live by the clock yet.If you drop your child off at the sitter’s house, even if a loving and beloved Grandma is the sitter, be sure to take along the favorite stuffed animal or baby blanket.