The anticipation alone is enough. It breaks your heart, and you wonder if the staff are telling you the truth when they say your little one is fine 5 minutes after you have gone. Are they just telling me that? What if she cries for hours? The cries as you say a rushed ‘goodbye’ are heartbreaking and cut you to your core. It’s okay the staff say, every child goes through this. But it hasn’t been the few weeks that other parents tell you about its been a few months. This is separation anxiety.
What can you do? It is helpful to know that separation anxiety is a very natural response in little children, in fact, if you hadn’t done such a good job at creating that special bond between you and your little one, they wouldn’t be struggling with separating from you at all.
How to help smooth it over, here’s a few suggestions: keep the routine the same, go to your kindy at the same time each visit so that if it’s morning tea, it’s always morning tea time and you can sit your child at the table and encourage them to get out their lunch box. Try to put them on the ground out of your arms in some ‘neutral’ space rather than from your arms to the staff as who are they going to prefer? Mummy or staff? Stay a few minutes, chat, get them involved in an activity, try not to let your anxiety or stress show through. Stand up and talk to the staff. Now make your exit.... fast.
Once you decide to go, GO! Do not delay or hang around, this only builds the anticipation of ‘mummy leaving in your child’. Do not sneak out ever, no matter how tempting. Be calm, say goodbye, wave, smile (regardless of how you feel) and leave. If you remember an instruction, do not go back, phone the centre instead. Trust in the staff and if they say she was fine in 5 minutes, she was. If she wasn’t, they would certainly phone. Seperation anxiety comes and goes in the early years and is heart breaking for both of you but there are ways to help ease your leaving for your child.