Nothing tears the heart apart more than the moment you have to leave your child home for work or drop them off to school. They never make it easy, what with the crying, spirited protests and screaming.
Separation anxiety is a natural concept that develops in babies as soon as they begin to understand that things exist even in their absence. This is why a baby will cry a lot when picked up by someone else from their mother’s hands.
WHEN DOES SEPARATION ANXIETY OCCUR?
The period of object permanence comes as early as four to six months in some babies, while others start displaying separation anxiety at ten to twelve months. The most common display of this behavior occurs when the mother leaves the baby alone or with someone else to run some errands. It is also seen at night when the baby wakes up all alone in their crib.
It, however, lessens by the second year.
WHY DOES IT OCCUR?
Separation anxiety can be explained in many ways, but the most logical one points towards an evolutional and common-sense point of view.
These explain that the baby sees the mother as their protector and starts to build trust in them so that anytime they are not in view, they feel threatened and unsafe. It is, therefore, natural for the baby to communicate this sense of insecurity in long and loud bouts of deafening cries.
HOW DO I HELP MY BABY GET THROUGH IT?
Separation anxiety is, fortunately, manageable and you can take a few steps to help the baby with it:
Not one child will be comfortable amongst strangers, especially, well, strange ones. Much as you are his mother and have a special bond with him, you will need to start introducing the baby to other people gradually so that when the time to leave them comes, they will not feel so unsafe. This could be their father, siblings or a family nanny. The child may still protest, but with time, they will adjust to their new handlers.
It will be much easier on both baby and mother if a new caregiver is introduced a few weeks before being left with them. You should be around during these meetings to show the baby that you trust their new caregiver.
Make something about your departure routine. Don’t disappear unceremoniously and expect the baby to understand, especially when you are going to be away for a long time. They won’t.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY BABY FOR SEPARATION?
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