It can be an absolute nightmare when your kids refuse to leave you alone, but almost all children go through periods of separation anxiety. The best idea is to develop a plan ahead of time so you can deal with it briskly and efficiently.
Remember at all times that separation anxiety is a phase. There are few, if any, 28-year-olds who howl and scream when their mothers or fathers leave them. This will help you remain patient. But don’t be too gentle with it; pandering to the anxiety will tell your child that there is something to worry about and this will protract the agony for both of you. Being brisk, gentle and quick helps. Even if your child is howling in the arms of a nearby nursery worker or grandparent, calmly say goodbye and walk away. Don’t dawdle; just get on with things as if your child isn’t crying at all, and you will send the message that there is no reason for him or her to cry.
Making sure your child is able to use a comfort item such as a favoured blanket or soft toy to help him or her feel comfortable wherever he or she is. A small backpack containing everything he or she needs to feel at home will not only allow for a homey atmosphere, it will also help to establish a routine that will set his or her mind at ease.
Separation anxiety’s focus can shift from parent to parent at any time. It can be exhausting and involved to be at the centre of this type of focus, and you may find that no matter which parent is the one tearing little hands from around his or her neck on a daily basis, it is a lot of pressure to be under. Relieve your partner whenever you can. This could mean something as small as letting them go for a small walk around town, or something bigger like a spa weekend away. Surprising them with a nice day out can really relieve their stress to an amazing degree.
Remember that separation anxiety is a common developmental stage at a variety of ages; there is nothing wrong with your child, even if the separation anxiety carries on for some time. If you have concerns about his or her ability to deal with a day at nursery or school, give them a bell when you get home and ask if they’re all right. This can set your mind at ease, and you’ll often find children settle down within a few minutes of your departure. And remember at all times that it won’t last forever – there is a light at the end of the tunnel!