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Separation Anxiety: Toddler Edition

Over the past 3 years (almost, gasp!) Oscar had had his bouts of separation anxiety. They mostly occurred prior to his second birthday and were usually quelled with equal parts blanket and paci. However, since we started limiting Oscar’s pacifier use to just bedtime, he no longer wants to bring his blanket anywhere. It’s like they belong together, never to be separated.

And now we are having a hard time again.

I was super excited to be cleared for exercise after recovering from Calvin’s birth. The first few times I left Oscar in the gym nursery were fine, no problem. But in the past couple weeks, any time I tell him we are going somewhere with a nursery (be it the gym or church) he tells me that he just wants to stay home and sleep and that he’s not gonna go ANYWHERE, meanwhile disintegrating into a pile of tears and anguish.

This is especially awesome because once we get to said destination he really enjoys it. That is after screaming COME BAAAACK at the top of his lungs until I am out of earshot. And throw in the occasional, I missed you at exercise, to twist the knife. Of course this usually results in candy corn and extra trips to the park so I can see why he does it.

I sought the wisdom of Facebook and my friends all had some really great advice. Some of it I have tried, some of it is still on deck. One suggestion was to tell Oscar that I will always come back to get him. Of course it seems intuitive, but I don’t know that I was really spelling it out. This morning I found a cute little song online and we watched it before we left. It calmed him down enough to get in the van, but he cried again when I dropped him off. I will say that the caregiver said he only cried for like 2 minutes and played the whole time thereafter. But it’s those 2 minutes that I can HEAR and it kills me.

So we are dealing with our old “friend” Separation Anxiety day by day. I have considered asking Oscar if he wants to bring his blanket again, but honestly I love that it stays at home in his bed (and clean) instead of dragging all over the place.

Have you dealt with the reemergence of Separation Anxiety in your toddler? Do you have a system to help him/her stay calm?



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dumb mom

Tuesday 25th of October 2011

#2 had this as well. In preschool I would peel him off, the teacher would restrain him, I mean cuddle him and I would drive around the building to see my son beating on the glass window for me to return. It was like a horror movie. Or something um, horrible. He got over it, sort of, but not until Christmas! Then he would just be silent in school. And then he finally made one friend and moved from being silent to only really talking to that one little girl. They are still friends. And he is apparently a really funny member of his 1st grade class! He's mostly well adjusted. Hopefully yours turns around soon too. Everyone has their own schedule, ya know! Good luck!

Hines-Sight Blog

Saturday 22nd of October 2011

I had a hard time with my son on this, and then when he got to be three, and some summer camps, he did really well. Preschool helps, too.

My daughter went through this stage just recently, and she started toddler preschool in September. At first, she did what Oscar did, and cried when I left, but it was short-lived. Now, she waves bye and loves going. She's also the same way with sitters now, too.

I think it is harder on the parent than the child. I did always tell them I would be back.

Clare Tyner

Friday 21st of October 2011

We have had to deal with the same thing with Rowen and it seemed to pop up after Brooks was born. Like you, we had little glimpses here and there, but a few months after Brooks came home, and reality hit that he was here to stay, the anxiety started. I drop him off at school 2 mornings a week and he went from walking in easily with no fear to clinging and crying the moment we got to school. While there he was happy and would ask where I was and if I was coming back but the minute he saw me he would tear up again.

We asked advice of his teachers at school and of parents and friends and have navigated through and it's getting easier. Hang in there, do what feels right for you, stick with it, and let him know how much you love him and that you ALWAYS come back.

Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)

Thursday 20th of October 2011

I struggled with severe separation anxiety with my first Julia and she still is clingy at 6 years old. I suffered from it myself as a child and even when I was 11 years old.

It is tough and there are no easy answers. But Julia really loved the book "The Kissing Hand" and we always give each other kisses in each others hands to put on our cheeks.

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