My son started experiencing separation anxiety at 6 months old, which was earlier than I expected and it lasted until he was just over 2 years old. He still experiences it some but nothing at the level that he had for that year and a half.
Having anxiety over being separated from a parent or primary caregiver, is a very normal part of child development. Babies can experience separation anxiety as early as 6 months old or as late as 18 months old. It will typically subside at 2 years old but it is not at all uncommon for it to come back in the toddler and preschool years (source).
It’s important to know that any child can experience separation anxiety, it is not something that only children with stay at home or work at home moms experience. All kids get anxious when they are separated from their primary caregiver.
Separation anxiety tips for the mom that stays home
If you are home with your child and plan to do so up until kindergarten, you may have to be more proactive about giving your child opportunities to deal with their separation anxiety, but it is not necessary to send your child to preschool if you don’t want to or don’t have the means to.
Here are some tips for the stay at home or work at home mom:
Take your child to church
Join a mom’s group that provides a separate program or childcare for your child
Get regular babysitting
Join a preschool co-op
Put your child in dance lessons.
Tips for easing your child’s separation anxiety
Say goodbye instead of sneaking out.
Many parents make the mistake of thinking that if they sneak out of the room, it will be easier for their child. Really it’s easier for the parent not to hear the child screaming but once the child realizes the parent is gone he is going to scream, anyway.
While saying a proper goodbye may not stop your child from crying, if you just disappear the child has no reassurance that you will be back.
Leave a picture of yourself behind.
This is something that was suggested to me by a preschool director. Ask the teacher or caregiver if you can leave a picture of you and your child in her cubby, backpack, etc., so that your child can look at it or even carry it around to ease anxiety.
Teach your child a song, rhyme or prayer to recite.
We have a few sayings and songs we like to sing about fear and anxiety but singing “Grownups Come Back” from Daniel Tiger has been a very effective tool for my son. I’ve taught him to sing that song when he misses me to comfort himself.
For a short time, he was going to preschool, and this is how he was able to work through his separation anxiety. At first, he would proudly announce that he sang the song. After two weeks, he started to proudly announce that he didn’t need to sing it.
He will occasionally experience some anxiety when I drop him off at his AWANA club or when he happens to see me walking around or teaching another class. Of course, it always hurts my heart a little but I can walk away without feeling too bad because I know he will find comfort in his song and then he’ll have a blast.
I would love to know about any tools that have worked for you and your child!
This post is part of the series, 31 Days of Kindergarten Readiness.
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.