Hi Dr. Collison,
I am returning to work and am worried about my baby having separation anxiety. Any advice on how to help calm my unease?
Separation anxiety can affect children at several different stages in life. At four to nine months of age, babies begin to understand object permanence, and may become upset if you leave the room. Toddlers age 15 to 18 months may also display signs of separation anxiety. By the time children are about 3 years old, most understand the effect their anxiety or pleas at separation have on us. Be consistent; don’t return to the room based on a child’s plea – your ongoing consistency, explanation and diligence to return are fine.
To help alleviate anxiety, you can develop a good-bye ritual with your child. For instance, you may say “see you later alligator” and your child can respond with “in a while crocodile.” Or, give your child three big hugs before you leave. These types of rituals will be his or her cue that it is time to separate. Be careful to keep your good-bye rituals quick to keep from drawing out the good-bye process.
If you’re concerned that your child isn’t adapting to being without you, talk with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician has certainly helped support families who also are struggling with separation anxiety, and can help calm your unease and determine a plan to support you both!
Back to News
View All News